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Diet Soda May Increase Risks For Dementia And Stroke

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For the first study, published in Alzheimer's & Dementia, researchers examined data, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive testing results, from about 4,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study's Offspring and Third-Generation cohorts. After ten years, the researchers did a follow up to check on who had suffered strokes or dementia. Evidence shows that along with eating a healthy diet, including watching what you drink, the best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to take plenty of exercise and stop smoking'.

People who drink just one can of a diet soft drink daily risk tripling their chance of suffering from a stroke or dementia, according to a study.

The new research suggests that the potential harms of artificial sweeteners may extend to the brain.

But this does not mean that sugary drinks are in fact the healthy option, said study author Matthew Pase of Boston University School of Medicine and the Framingham Heart Study.

"I was surprised that sugary beverage intake was not associated with either the risks of stroke or dementia because sugary beverages are known to be unhealthy", Pase said.

"It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn't seem to help", Seshadri, who is senior author on both papers, said. They were also 2.9 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's. "In our study, 3 percent of the people had a new stroke and 5 percent developed dementia, so we're still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia".

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"We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages".

However, the current study, as well as other recent research showing associations between diet soft drinks and negative effects on blood vessels throughout the body, suggest that consumers may want to use caution before turning to these drinks as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. The participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said.

While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not - and can not - prove cause and effect.

Among that "high intake" group, they found multiple signs of accelerated brain ageing, including smaller overall brain volume, poorer episodic memory, and a shrunken hippocampus, all risk factors for early-stage Alzheimer's disease. The team of scientists from Boston University believe the artificial sweeteners including aspartame and saccharine maybe affecting the blood vessels, eventually triggering strokes and dementia. However, the impact on stroke risk remained. Dr James Pickett, of the Alzheimer's Society, said.

"But it does highlight a worrying association that requires further investigation".

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