Soda Lovers Beware: Stroke & Dementia Risk
Study links artificially sweetened drinks with higher risk of stroke and dementia.
We’ve been told countless times in the last 20 years that regular soda is bad for our health. It’s packed with sugar which experts have been saying for years, the dangers of consuming excessive amounts of sugar can cause numerous health issues like obesity. As companies try to combat the “bad ingredients” they try to roll out “healthier” versions of sodas like “sugar-free,” “diet,” “caffeine-free.” Soda companies try to praise themselves on making people think theses versions are healthy for them.
New research published by the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke found that the artificial sweeteners used in “diet drinks” are just as much a concern. Diet soda is linked to a greater risk of stroke and dementia. The April 2017 study involved 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60. During a seven year period, researchers asked participants a series of questions about their eating and drinking habits, at three points in the study. For the next 10 year, researchers kept tabs on those who participated, noting those who suffered from a stroke or developed dementia.
By the end of the study, researchers concluded that those who drank at least one artificially sweetened drink per day were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke or develop dementia. Even after adjusting for other factors such as age, gender, calorie intake, diet quality, physical activity and genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, their findings still held up.
The data in the study did not distinguish which types of artificial sweeteners were used in the drinks.
Lead researcher Matthew Pase of the Boston University School of Medicine stated that the findings only showed a correlation. It’s not a definitive causation but did provide one more piece of evidence that diet drinks are not a health alternative to sugary drinks. In a statement, Pase said, “We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages.” He further stated that the study showed the need for more direct research to this area, with the increased amount of people drinking artificially sweetened drinks.
American Beverage Association released a statement responding to the study saying that low-calorie sweeteners found in beverages have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities.
“The FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion — they are safe for consumption,” the statement 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 cannot — prove cause and effect.”
Regardless, based on studies and researcher statements, you should think twice about reaching for a diet soda or soda of any kind. In a 2015 study of adults aged 65 and older, those who drank diet soda had an increased weight gain compared to those who didn’t drink it. Other studies have connected diet soda and the disruption of gut bacteria, leading to glucose intolerance in some people and raising the risk of type 2 diabetes.