Drinking Diet Soda May Increase Risk of Stroke and Dementia

Diet soda and the artificial sweeteners they're filled with have been associated with a wide range of health problems, and a new study adds to the danger of diet drinks with findings that link the beverage to dementia and stroke.

Read 3 reasons to stop drinking diet soda right now

According to the National Post, the study published in the journal Stroke found people who drink diet soda daily are three times more likely to develop dementia or have a stroke compared to people who only drink it weekly (or less frequently).

“This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer’s disease dementia, the most common form of dementia,” Matthew Pase, a Boston University School of Medicine neurologist and the lead author of the study, told the Post. 

Although he acknowledged the research shows a correlation, not causation, Pase also said diet soda “might not be a healthy alternative” despite years of them being marketed as such. He urged further exploration in future studies. No such correlation was found for sugar-sweetened beverages.

Read healthier alternatives to diet cola

Other known health risks
Aspartame, one of the artificial sweeteners commonly found in diet drinks, was linked to cancer in a 2014 review by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. They urged for “a re-evaluation of the current position of international regulatory agencies must be considered an urgent matter of public health" after finding "consistent evidence of APM’s [aspartame’s] carcinogenic potential." 

Read more about soda companies funding health studies

Another study found a link between aspartame consumption and depression, even when the participants consumed far below the acceptable daily intake level. Yet another study found women who drank artificially sweetened beverages like diet cola while pregnant were 1.23 times more likely to have a child who develops allergies or asthma.

Research has also linked diet soda with type 2 diabetes since artificial sweeteners can cause the body to respond the same way it would to sugar. In fact, a study in Diabetes Care found drinking sodas daily can lead to a 67 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. 

If you're looking for a fizzy treat, we recommend a soda sweetened with stevia like Blue Sky or Zevia, carbonated water with some fruit or purchase a Soda Stream and make your own. Avoiding artificial sweeteners as much as possible could have a positive impact on your health.

By Steph Davidson| May 01, 2017
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Steph Davidson

Steph Davidson

Steph is a writer and editor with a love of tea, books, and horror movies. Steph grew up under the impression that most meals came out of a box and had to contain some sort of animal protein. When an interest in a more environmentally friendly way of living led to her vegetarianism in 2012, she decided to teach herself how to cook. You can catch her kitchen wins (and the occasional opportunity for improvement) on Instagram @_stephinitely_.


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