Wednesday, 24 May, 2017

Diet drinks linked to increased risk of stroke and dementia

Two new studies suggest links between soft drinks, dementia and stroke Diet Beverages Linked to Greater Risk of Stroke, Dementia
Melissa Porter | 21 April, 2017, 19:42

"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", Matthew Pase, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Excess sugar has always been associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease and Type-2 diabetes, but little is known about its long-term effects on the human brain.

Now, because this was an observational study-meaning it identifies trends over time-it can't definitely prove that artificial sweeteners somehow cause dementia or stroke.

Details of the study are published in Stroke journal of the American Heart Association.

Research has long shown that artificially sweetened drinks are not health drinks.

The data came from the Framingham Heart Study, a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University.

The researchers then monitored 2,888 participants age 45 and over for the development of a stroke and 1,484 participants age 60 and older for dementia for 10 years.

"In turn, the sweetness drive you to eat more kilojoules from sweet foods and drinks than you normally would". The researchers used this information to determine participants' consumption of artificially sweetened beverages. Of these, 82 cases were ischemic stroke, which is a type of stroke caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. Of these cases, 63 were Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. Other research has found an association between artificially sweetened drinks and weight gain, which might increase the risk for stroke and dementia, the researchers said.

"When the researchers accounted for other risk factors for Alzheimer's, such as risk genes, diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol levels and weight, this significant association was lost, suggesting that these drinks are not the whole story". People did not drink sugary drinks as often as diet ones, which the authors said could be one reason they did not see the same link with regular soda.

"Artificial sweeteners provide an intensely sweet taste without any calories which can actually cause you to crave more sweet foods and drinks", Ms Beck said.

Safety of diet soda was put into question since new study link sweetened beverages to both stroke and dementia.

Furthermore, the team points to the small number of study participants with stroke and dementia as a significant limitation.

"I was surprised that sugary beverage intake was not associated with either the risks of stroke or dementia because sugary beverages are known to be unhealthy", Pase said.

"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 either stroke or dementia".

But some parties have said the study does not directly suggest that diet drinks cause dementia.