"We should not drink too many sweet drinks, no matter how they are sweetened", she said.
The research, which was published Thursday in the science journal "Stroke," found that one or more artificially sweetened drinks consumed a day was associated with higher risk of stroke and dementia. Those who drank at least one diet soda a day had smaller brain volume, according to an article by Boston University.
"Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option", explained Dr. Matthew Pase, study author and a senior fellow at the Boston University School of Medicine.
"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. The ages were not randomly selected, as the risk of stroke increases after 45 years and the risk of dementia increases after age 60.
Diet soda has always been touted as a healthier alternative to sugary soft drinks, but a new study raises some concerning questions.
Pase said that the next steps in the research was to look more closely at the positive food and drinks choices people can make to improve health.
Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.
The Stroke study, meanwhile, found an association with artificially sweetened beverages and stroke and dementia, while not finding a similar association for consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, an observation the authors characterized as "intriguing". The participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said.
And Fargo said the study does not point to any specific mechanism for how a diet drink might damage the brain.
"As the consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks is increasing in the community, along with the prevalence of stroke and dementia, future research is needed", they added. The groups were followed for seven years, responding to questionnaires on their dietary habits.
The researchers caution that the study only shows an association - it does not prove that diet drinks actually cause stroke or dementia.
However, the researchers said they took factors such as age, sex, education, daily calorie intake, quality of diet, exercise and smoking into consideration.
Diet drinks account for a quarter market of the total sweetened beverages.
They found that people who consumed sugary sodas and fruit juices had greater evidence of accelerated brain aging including smaller brain volumes and poorer memory function.
Now, because this was an observational study-meaning it identifies trends over time-it can't definitely prove that artificial sweeteners somehow cause dementia or stroke.
'What we do know is that the things we eat and drink can have an effect on our brain health.