Doctors uncover scary soft drink dementia link

Research from the American Heart Association claims to have found a link between soft drink consumption and dementia and stroke.

You might have heard the old saying that soft drink will rot your teeth.

But did you know that soft drink could increase your chances of getting dementia or having a stroke?

That’s what a team of doctors have discovered during a recent study, published by the American Heart Association.

The study looked at 2888 participants aged over the age of 45 years for incidents of stroke and 1484 participants over the age of 60 for incidents of dementia, comparing the results to their intake of artificially sweetened and sugar sweetened drinks.

“After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), caloric intake, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” the study confirmed.

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“Artificially sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia.”

Sugar-sweetened drinks on the other hand did not contribute to higher instances of dementia or stroke, according to the study.

But not everyone is convinced.

Dr Mary Hannon-Fletcher, the Head of Health Sciences at Ulster University in the UK, said that although the research was good, the methods of getting the data had limitations.

“Using Food Frequency Questionnaires has its limitations, especially when the participants are asked to report on their eating/drinking habits over the last year,” she said.

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“How accurate could you be??”

She also questioned whether the data was sound.

“There is little conclusive existing evidence on this subject, however others have reported a link between SSB consumption and stroke and the direct causal pathways linking SSB and vascular outcome which is why both the World Health Organisation and American Heart Association / American Stroke Association are actively engaged in campaigns to reduce the intakes of SSBs,” she said.

“The authors cannot say that the effect they report is causal, as the tool they have used cannot draw a causal link. It will need further investigation, perhaps starting in childhood.”

And while she doesn’t think the evidence is necessarily sound or conclusive, Dr Hannon-Fletcher made on take home message clear.

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“We should not drink too many sweet drinks, no matter how they are sweetened,” she said.

“Both are bad for our health in the long run.”

Professor Naveed Sattar, a professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow was also cautious about the results of the findings.

“I would strongly caution against the conclusion that artificially sweetened drinks may increase the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s,” he said.
 
“It is only one study and relatively small at that – there is little other strong evidence to support a link between artificially sweetened drinks and adverse health outcomes.”

The research has certainly split the medical and scientific community.

What do you think? Do you believe there could be a link between soft drinks and dementia or stroke?