April 23, 2017

Sweet Drinks Linked to Dementia

21 April 2017, 02:09 | Rodolfo Wallace

Two new studies suggest links between soft drinks, dementia and stroke

Boston University researchers found aspartame a low-calorie sweetener wreaks havoc on the arteries- as opposed to sugar-sweetened drinks- driving up one's risk of dementia

Pase believes this is the first study to look at its association with risk of dementia – and he hopes the work will spur more research into the effects of these sweeteners on the brain.

This does not necessarily imply causality, however, as multiple other confounders may be present.

Additionally, people who drink artifical sweeteners were three times as likely to develop both stroke and dementia.

People who consume diet drinks every day are nearly three times more likely to suffer a stroke or dementia, research suggests.

Scientists say they should no longer be regarded as the healthier alternative and urge the public to stick to water or milk.

The researchers said future studies should look at the effect of diet drinks on factors known to increase the risk of stroke and dementia, such as high blood pressure.

Several other experts commented on the "controversial but inconclusive" nature of the association.

The study is observational, and while it can suggest a potential association, the study cannot be used to assess causation; therefore, these results should not cause alarm.

"The evidence is clear that sugar-sweetened beverages are unhealthy for our heart and unhealthy for our brain", said Gardener, who cowrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

"This article provides further evidence though on artificially sweetened beverages and their possible effects on vascular health, including stroke and dementia", said Dr. Ralph Sacco, professor and chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, about the new study.

Led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, the Stroke study authors conducted a review of data collected through the Framingham Heart Study, a multi-decade observational review that began with more than 5,000 volunteer participants in 1948 and has included their offspring since 1971 and their grandchildren since 2002. Both groups were primarily Caucasian and were just under 50% male.

Three times over seven years, the researchers reviewed what people were drinking.

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In the study, researchers tracked the stroke risk for almost 3,000 patients and the dementia risk for about 1,500 more.

"We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us".

One study published past year, for example, associated aspartame - an artificial sweetener commonly found in diet soda - with weight gain in mice.

"When the authors controlled for hypertension and diabetes and obesity the effects diminish, which implies that some of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages could still be going through a vascular pathway", he said about the new study.

There was no link between sugary beverages and either of the illnesses - although the researchers aren't encouraging us to drink them either.

The study did not find the same link between stroke and dementia in people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages, but the authors say that does't mean it's time for people to start gulping those either.

In these studies approximately 4,000 participants over the age of 30 from the community-based FHS were examined using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and cognitive testing to measure the relationship between beverage intake and brain volumes as well as thinking and memory.

Matthew Pase, Ph.D., a study co-author from the Department of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine in MA, and his colleagues published their findings today in the journal Stroke.

Now, new research suggests diet drinks with artificial sweeteners may have some health concerns of their own.

All participants filled in questionnaires on their food and drink intake at three separate points during the 1990s.

Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate. The Alzheimer's Association has been advocating increased research funding, including a $400 million boost for 2017 through the National Institutes of Health, now pending before Congress, and at least another $414 million for 2018.

The Framingham Heart Study is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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