The researchers of the Boston University study, published in medical journal Stroke, caution that the findings only show an association, but say there is a need for further investigation.
“Our study shows a need to put more research into this area given how often people drink artificially-sweetened beverages,” said lead author Matthew Pase, a senior fellow at the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine.
Researchers analysed data on nearly 2900 people over the age of 45 for the stroke study, and almost 1500 people over age 60 for the dementia study.
The participants recorded their eating and drinking habits in questionnaires and they were then followed up after 10 years.
At the end of the follow-up period, the researchers found 97 cases of stroke, and 81 cases of dementia, 63 of which were diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease.
The people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day were three times as likely to develop a ischemic stroke and 2.9 times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease dementia.
Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate, noted Pase.
“In our study, three per cent of the people had a new stroke and five per cent developed dementia, so we’re still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia.”
The study did not find the same link between sugary drinks and stroke or dementia.
“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. We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages,” said Pase.
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