Warning: This Popular Beverage May be Tied to Stroke, Dementia

A new study from the Framingham Heart Study, published Thursday in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, found new evidence that suggest diet soda may cause stroke and/or dementia.

The study was unable to determine an actual cause-and-effect relationship between drinking diet soda (and artificially-sweetened drinks) and the aforementioned health risks.

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However, those persons who consumed beverages with artificial sweeteners had higher cases of stroke and dementia. Data was gathered from the health habits of 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60.

Stroke and dementia are rarely seen in adults younger than 45 and 60, respectively, researchers said.

Participants who drank a diet soda every day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, which is caused by blocked blood vessels, and nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

“We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population,” said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the new study

“More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health,” he said.

The study also found that participants who drank a diet soda, or an artificially sweetened beverage, on average one to six times a week, were 2.6 times as likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, but were not more likely to suffer from dementia, Pase said.

A spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association issued a statement in response, saying that low-calorie sweeteners found in beverages have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities.

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