Researchers found that older adults who regularly drank artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet soda, were about three times more likely to have a stroke or develop Alzheimer’s disease over 10 years, painting a worrying picture for anyone who regularly enjoys diet soda. The findings may sound alarming, but the research paints a more nuanced picture. The results come from the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term observational study of people living in Framingham, Massachusetts. From , participants were asked questions about their health and diet. Then, over the following 10 years, the researchers tracked the patients’ health, allowing them to cross-reference data and identify associations—including how many people who regularly consumed diet soda developed Alzheimer’s disease. We can’t tell from these results whether drinking diet soda caused Alzheimer’s disease. In this population, it’s possible that people who chose diet sodas were already at greater risk for the disease.
Listen here. You might think drinking sugar-free diet soda is better for you than regular soda, which is packed with sugar. After all, experts have been sounding alarm bells for years about the dangers of consuming excessive amounts of sugar, which has been associated with obesity and a litany of health problems. The April study involved 2, adults older than 45 and 1, adults older than Researchers asked the participants to answer questions about their eating and drinking habits at three separate points during a seven-year period. Then, for the next 10 years, they kept tabs on the participants, recording which of them suffered a stroke or developed dementia. In the end, researchers learned that those who drank at least one artificially sweetened drink per day were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke or develop dementia compared to those who drank ess than one a week. The data collected did not distinguish between the types of artificial sweeteners used in the drinks. Although lead researcher Matthew Pase of the Boston University School of Medicine acknowledged that the findings showed only a correlation — and not causation — he said they do provide yet one more piece of evidence that diet drinks are not as healthy an alternative to sugary drinks as many people think.
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For stroke the links with artificially sweetened drinks were inconsistent. Ann Nutr Metab 70, Model 1 is reported in the online supplement. Previous studies linking artificially-sweetened beverage consumption to negative health consequences have been questioned based on concerns regarding residual confounding and reverse causality, whereby sicker individuals consume diet beverages as a means of negating a further deterioration in health. Diet soda intake is associated with long-term increases in waist circumference in a biethnic cohort of older adults: The san antonio longitudinal study of aging. McKeehan received a bachelor of science degree in biology from Purdue University, where he was awarded a Howard Hughes Scholarship.