When it comes to artificial sweeteners, controversy isn’t new. Artificial sweeteners, like the ones used in diet drinks, were once thought to be a healthier alternative due to lower carbohydrate and lower calorie content. But evidence that says otherwise continues to pile. While the newest study shouldn’t exactly come as a shock, it continues to show just how dangerous artificial sweeteners can be. According to a study out of Boston University, drinking diet soda on a regular basis nearly triples your risk of developing a stroke or dementia.
To conduct the study, researchers gathered data from approximately 3,000 adults. They then separated the participants into two different categories. In people older than 45 years old, researchers looked at stroke risk. In those older than 60, the researchers concentrated on dementia.
The study continued for a period of ten years. Over those ten years, researchers observed 97 cases of incident stroke, along with 81 cases of incident dementia. Of those cases, 63 were consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.
The results showed that drinking diet soda increased a person’s risk of developing stroke or dementia nearly three-fold.
Senior study author Sudha Seshadri, MD, explained, “These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion. 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. Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to.”
Another author of the study, Matthew Pase, published additional research in Alzheimer’s & Dementia. This study focused on people who consumed more than two sugary drinks per day or any type, and more than three sodas per day. Researchers discovered several signs of accelerated brain aging in the “high intake” group, correlating with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The study also showed that drinking at lease one diet soda each day was associated with smaller brain volume.