telegraph.co.uktelegraph.co.uk - April 20 view article

Diet fizzy drinks linked to dementia and stroke

Consuming diet fizzy drinks every day almost triples the risk of developing dementia, a major new study suggests.

People who regularly drank artificially sweetened beverages are also more likely to suffer a stroke, but the full-fat equivalent is not associated with a greater risk of either condition.

Researchers have warned, however, not to treat sugary drinks as a healthy option, saying there may be an as yet undetected link between full-fat drinks, dementia and stroke.

The nature of the study means they cannot prove a causal link between diet drinks and dementia, but previous research has shown that artificial sweeteners can damage blood vessels.

Scientists at the University of Boston assessed the dietary habits of more than 4,000 people for seven years, and then monitored their health for a further decade.

They found that people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day were 2.9 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and three times as likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than those who barely drank any.

In the UK, people have roughly a 7 per cent chance of developing dementia between the age of 65 and 80, with the odds increasing to more than 16 per cent above that age.

The results of the Boston University study, published in the journals Alzheimer's & Dementia and Stroke, accounted for factors that could have influenced the findings, such as age, sex education, exercise and calorie intake.

"We know that limiting added sugars is an important strategy to support good nutrition and healthy body weights, and until we know more, people should use artificially sweetened drinks cautiously,” said Professor Rachel Johnson, former chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.

“They may have a role for people with diabetes and in weight loss, but we encourage people to drink water, low-fat milk or other beverages without added sweeteners,"

The research also found that regular consumption of sugary drinks, including fruit juices, were also associated with a poorer memory and overall smaller brain brain volumes.

telegraph.co.uktelegraph.co.uk - April 20 view article