Published: Sat, April 22, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ted Wilson

Ups the risk of dementia and stroke

Ups the risk of dementia and stroke

Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests. The results, however, come with a host of caution flags raised by experts.

Sugary fizzy drinks have been linked to obesity and diabetes, but the sugar-free versions of the drinks are often seen as being a healthier alternative.

The team of researchers from Boston's University School of Medicine, said people who consume a can of artificially-sweetened soft drink a day were at three times the risk of suffering the most common form of stroke compared to non-drinkers.

"These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it's strong data and a very strong suggestion", says Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (MED) and a faculty member at BU's Alzheimer's Disease Center, who is senior author on both papers. They also can lead to brain shrinkage, accelerated brain aging and memory loss, as well as an increased risk of stroke and dementia, according to a pair of studies led by the same team.

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"The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages", Pase said. For the dementia analysis, they excluded participants who had prevalent dementia, mild cognitive impairment or other significant neurological disease at baseline and those who were younger than 60 years old. Researchers examined 4,372 adults over the age 45.

Pase and other researchers say the work points clearly to the need to investigate the possible biological reasons artificial sweeteners might affect the brain and the need for more experimental and clinical trials. Out of 2,900 study participants, 82 suffered ischemic stroke, mainly caused by blockage of blood vessels.

That's when they found that people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened drink a day were three times as likely to develop ischemic stroke and 2.9 times as likely to develop dementia. 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. Apparently, those diet soft drinks, which contain artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and saccharine, could increase your chances of having a stroke or developing dementia, too.

Director Lieske Giese said, "This study adds to the research that we need to pay attention to the fact that diet beverages can also be problematic".

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"While the stroke effect remains even after diabetes has been taken into account, we should bear in mind that this is just one study with relatively small subgroups of participants". "America's beverage companies support and encourage balanced lifestyles by providing people with a range of beverage choices -- with and without calories and sugar -- so they can choose the beverage that is right for them". After factoring in age, sex, and caloric intake, they found that there was an association between consuming artificially sweetened beverages and the two diseases.

In response to the study being published, the American Beverage Association issued a press release, stating that extensive studies have shown that ASBs are "safe for consumption".

"As the consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks is increasing in the community, along with the prevalence of stroke and dementia, future research is needed", they added.

The study's authors noted that the main limitation of the research was that it only shows a trend among one group of people and was not designed, or able, to prove cause and effect.

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