Diet soda has been possibly linked to dementia and stroke, according to research from the Boston University School of Medicine and Framingham Heart Study released Thursday.
The findings in the study, released this week in the medical journals Alzheimer's & Dementia, and Stroke, showed that people who consumed sugary drinks and fruit juices on a regular basis were more likely to have poorer memories and small brain volumes, according to a statement from the medical school.
Researchers discovered in the study that those who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda, according to the statement.
"Our findings indicate an association between higher sugary beverage intake and brain atrophy, including lower brain volume and poorer memory," corresponding author Matthew Pase, of the Boston University School of Medicine, said in the statement.
"We also found that people drinking diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer's disease dementia, the most common form of dementia," Pase added.
Responding to the study, the American Beverage Association, the lobbying group for the soda industry, stressed that its products are safe, reported NBC News.
"The Alzheimer's Association points out that the greatest risk factors for Alzheimer's are increasing age, family history of Alzheimer's, and genetics — not sugar intake, from any source," the association told NBC News.
Researchers examined thousands of people over the age of 45 from the area of Framingham, Massachusetts, on their drinking and eating habits over a seven-year period, noted USA Today. Then scientists followed-up with them a decade later to see who had experienced a stroke or dementia.
Pase added, though, that because the risk of stroke or dementia is elevated by consuming the drinks, it does not mean those outcomes are inevitable, wrote USA Today.
"Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate," Pase said, according to USA Today. "In our study, three percent of the people had a new stroke and five percent developed dementia, so we're still talking about a small number of people developing stroke or dementia."
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