Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 26th 2017 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Consuming a can a day of low- or no-sugar
soft drink is associated with a much higher risk
of having a stroke or developing dementia, re-
Their findings have prompted renewed questions
about whether drinks flavoured with artificial sweet-
eners can increase the risk of serious illness, as heavily
sugared drinks have already been shown to do.
"Drinking at least one artificially sweetened bev-
erage daily was associated with almost three times
the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared
to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages
less than once a week," according to the American
researchers who carried out a study published in
Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association.
"After adjustments for age, sex, education (for anal-
ysis of dementia), calorific intake, diet quality, phys-
ical activity and smoking, higher recent and higher
cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks
were associated with an increased risk of ischaemic
stroke, all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease
dementia," the co-authors write.
Those consuming at least a can of so-called diet
drinks every day were 2.96 times more likely to suffer
an ischaemic stroke and 2.89 times more likely to
develop Alzheimer's disease than those who drank
them less than once a week, they found.
Ischaemic strokes occur when blood cannot get
to the brain because of a blockage, often one caused
by a blood clot forming in either an artery leading
to the brain or inside a vein in the brain itself. They
comprise the large majority of the 152,0000 strokes
a year which occur.
Surprisingly, though, the research also contradict-
ed previous studies by finding that sugared drinks
did not raise the risk of either serious outcome. It is
based on data for more than 4,300 participants in
the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term medical
research project in the United States.
"To our knowledge, our study is the first to report
an association between daily intake of artificially
sweetened soft drink and increased risk of both all-
cause dementia and dementia because of Alzheimer's
disease," the co-authors added.
However, they admitted that they could not prove
a causal link between intake of diet drinks and de-
velopment of either medical condition because their
study was merely observational and based on details
people provided in questionnaires logging their food
and drink habits.
Matthew Pase, a senior fellow in the department of
neurology at Boston University's school of medicine
who was one of the co-authors, said that despite no
evidence of a causal link, the apparent connection
between sweetened drinks and the two conditions
"does identify an intriguing trend that will need to
be explored in other studies"
This is not the first time that sweetened drinks
have been implicated in the development of serious
ill-health. The paper quotes the Northern Manhat-
tan study as having found that "daily consumption
of artificially sweetened soft drink was associated
with a higher risk of combined vascular events but
. It also cites the conclusion of the Nurs-
es Health study and Health Professionals follow-up
study that "greater consumption of sugar and artifi-
cially sweetened soft drinks was each independently
associated with a higher risk of incident stroke over
28 years of follow-up for women and 22 years of fol-
low-up for men"
Sales of diet versions of soft drinks have boomed
in recent years as sales of fully sugared ones have
However, experts and health charities warned
against reading too much into the findings reported
in Stroke. "This research does not show that artifi-
cially sweetened drinks cause dementia. But it does
highlight a worrying association that requires further
investigation," said Dr James Pickett, head of research
at Alzheimer's Society.
Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at
Glasgow University, said: "This is an interesting paper,
but I would strongly caution against the conclusion
that artificially sweetened drinks may increase the
risk of stroke and Alzheimer's. There is little other
strong evidence to support a link between artificially
sweetened drinks and adverse health outcomes." (UK
Sales of diet versions of soft drinks have boomed in recent years---but artificial
sweeteners may not be good for you either.
Stroke, dementia risk linked to
artificial sweeteners, study suggests
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