People might think that drinking diet soda is the healthier alternative to the more sugary options. But new research shows that artificially sweetened drinks, even diet soda, can be harmful, increasing a person’s chances of getting a stroke or developing dementia.
Researchers found that drinking diet soda daily raises a person’s risk of dementia and a stroke by three times, compared to those who drink less than one diet soda a week, USA Today reports.
Diet soda has been on the hot seat, since recent studies keep proving that it has negative effects on consumers’ health. In 2013, scientists from Purdue University found that these drinks don’t help in reducing weight at all, despite the name. Earlier in 2007, another study concluded that those who drink diet soda are no less at risk of developing heart disease compared to those who drink regular soda.
Dr. Matthew Pase, a senior fellow at the Boston University School of Medicine and one of the study authors, said,
Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option. We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages.
The researchers studied thousands of people ages 45 and up from Framingham, Massachusetts, focusing on their drinking and eating habits. After ten years, the researchers did a follow up to check on who had suffered strokes or dementia. After factoring in age, sex, and caloric intake, they found that there was an association between consuming artificially sweetened beverages and the two diseases.
However, Pase admits that that overall risk isn’t that big. “Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate. In our study, 3% of the people had a new stroke and 5% developed dementia, so we’re still talking about a small number of people developing stroke or dementia.”
The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.