Sugar-sweetened beverages are known to raise risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and early death. Artificially-sweetened beverages, however, also have health risks of their own.

Diet Drinks And Increased Risk For Dementia And Stroke

A new study published in the journal Stroke has revealed that those who drink at least one of these beverages daily have nearly three times the risk of suffering from stroke or dementia.

For the new study, researchers looked at the data of 4,300 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a medical research of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University.

They found that over the next 10 years, individuals who drink one artificially-sweetened soft drink per day have nearly three times the risk of suffering from ischemic stroke than those who never drink these beverages. Ischemic stroke happens when an artery to the brain is blocked.

The researchers also found that those who drink one artificially-sweetened soft drink a day have nearly three times the increased risk of getting diagnosed with dementia than those who don't.

The findings showed that people who drink at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day are 2.96 times more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, which is characterized by decline in memory and other thinking skills.

"After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), caloric intake, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer's disease dementia," the researchers wrote in their study.

Other Health Risks Posed By Diet Drinks

The research though is an observational study, which means it did not prove a causal link between consumption of diet drinks and stroke and dementia. Nonetheless, it is not the first time that a study hinted the health risks associated with consuming beverages that use artificial sweeteners.

In a 2015 study, researchers found that risk for heart failure increases by 23 percent with daily consumption of at least two cans of diet soda and other artificially-sweetened beverages that fall under the diet drink category.

Some people resort to diet drinks in an effort to lose weight but studies also appear to contradict this idea. A 2014 study found that overweight adults who replace their sugar-sweetened beverages for diet drinks get to actually consume more calories than those who drink regular sugary beverages. Worse, people may even gain more fat in the abdominal area when they consume diet drinks.

"There are many studies now suggesting detrimental effects of sugary beverages, but I think we also need to consider the possibility that diet drinks may not be healthy alternatives," said Matthew Pase, from Boston University School of Medicine, who is part of the new study on diet drinks and their link to dementia and stroke.

"We can't show cause and effect in this study as it is observational in design, but given the popularity of diet drinks we desperately need more research on this question."

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