I’m sure we all have those friends who believe that drinking diet soda is so much better for you than regular soda. (I actually have friends who believe it’s not harmful! They are obese by the way, not sure why they aren’t making the connection.) But, a new study is suggesting that the bubbly, artificially sweetened drink isn’t just bad for your body, but your brain as well. The study, published in the journal Stroke, found that diet soda was tied to a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and the lead author of the study said:
“We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population. More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health.”
Researchers collected data from 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts (the data was originally part of the Framingham Heart Study). In the older-than-45 group, researchers measured for stroke (rarely seen in those under 45) and in the older-than-60 group, they measured for dementia (which is rare in people under 60).


The researchers then looked at how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in each of the age groups drank, at different points, between 1991 and 2001. Then, they compared that info with how many of the study participants suffered stroke or dementia over the next 10 years:
  • Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks- drinking one a day, people were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels
  • One a day- participants were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia
  • Participants who drank one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week were found to be 2.6 times as likely to experience an “ischemic stroke but were no more likely to develop dementia”
As you can probably imagine, the American Beverage Association wasn’t too happy about the study. They responded by reminding everyone that low-calorie sweeteners have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities. (And we should trust them because they have our best interests at heart?) They also said, “America’s beverage companies support and encourage balanced lifestyles by providing people with a range of beverage choices — with and without calories and sugar — so they can choose the beverage that is right for them.” That’s how they get around KNOWING what their products do. It’s like a safety net!
And yet, previous studies have shown an association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and things like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and possibly even heart failure.
Sugary and artificially sweetened beverages aren’t good for you so just don’t drink them. That’s the easiest thing to do.

Source: CNN