Study shows possible link between diet soda, risk of stroke, dementia

By Greg Hamilton • Published: July 6th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Summertime is here, and Americans are reaching for something to beat the heat and quench their thirst. Years of warnings about possible negative health effects from sugary drinks have led millions to opt for diet sodas as a way to have a refreshing, cold drink without the guilt. But a new study has shown a troubling association between diet sodas and an increased risk of both stroke and dementia.

According to Boston University School of Medicine researchers, people who drank at least one artificially sweetened drink a day, compared with less than one a week, were nearly three times as likely to have a stroke or to be diagnosed with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The results were published in the journal Stroke.

Researchers evaluated nearly three-thousand men and women in the Framingham Heart Study who have had periodic blood tests done since the 1970s. Researchers focused on those 45 and older for the development of stroke and 60 and older for dementia over a 10-year period. The results were adjusted for variables such as age, sex, caloric intake, diet quality, physical activity and smoking.

The researchers emphasized the observational study did not definitely show that drinking artificially sweetened drinks leads to strokes or dementia, only that it identifies a trend they said should be explored further.

Researchers warned that the study should not be seen by people as permission to return to sugary drinks, which have been linked to obesity, diabetes and memory loss. Instead, choose that old-fashioned thirst-buster that never goes out of style: Clear, refreshing, cold water.