Diet soda intake linked to stroke and dementia in study

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People who drink a single diet soft drink per day showed a higher rate of developing dementia and stroke over a decade, according to new research.

The study, published on Thursday in Stroke and Alzheimer's & Dementia, followed a total of 4,400 participants from the Framingham Heart Study for 10 years to determine how their drinking habits impacted their health. Results showed that people who drank one diet beverage a day were far more likely to be diagnosed with dementia, while those who drank one to six diet beverages a week were nearly three times as likely to have a stroke.

While the study couldn't establish cause and effect, lead researcher Matthew Pase, Ph.D., said his team's findings “indicate an association between higher sugary beverage intake and brain atrophy, including lower brain volume and poorer memory.”

Representatives for beverage and low-calorie food associations, as well as researchers not associated with the study, told HealthDay the study's findings didn't deliver enough evidence to tell people to stop drinking diet beverages.

"Rather than focusing on results from observational studies, which cannot establish cause and effect, individuals should talk to their healthcare team to address known risks for stroke and dementia," said Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council.