People who regularly drank artificially sweetened beverages are also more likely to suffer a stroke, but the full-fat equivalent is not associated with a greater risk of either condition.
Within its statement, the ISA added that there is an established and strong bank of scientific evidence from clinical studies demonstrating that low calorie sweeteners and diet drinks containing them can be a useful tool in sugar and energy reduction, when used in place of sugar.
"I would strongly caution against the conclusion that artificially sweetened drinks may increase the risk of stroke and Alzheimer's", he said. However, there are a growing number of population based studies, such as this study by Pase, et.al, that show associations between frequent consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and undesirable effects on blood vessels throughout the body. The FHS entailed nine examination cycles held approximately every four years; participants logged beverage intake through questionnaires that surveyed their diets over the previous 12 months.
The study didn't identify different types of artificial sweeteners, which vary greatly from product to product, and nor did it explain why drinking ASBs might bring on stroke and dementia. However, the study encourages people to still steer clear of drinking any sugary drinks.
Of the 2,888 participants the study followed, there were only 97 cases of stroke and 81 cases of dementia.
"We believe the pathways of which artificially sweetened beverages would affect the brain are probably through vascular mechanisms", Sacco said.
For example, the participants who most frequently drank diet soft drinks were also more likely to be diabetic - which is in itself a risk factor for stroke and dementia.
Watch it before you gulp that fizzy drink or sugary beverage as a study reveals that people who drink diet soda daily are three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia.
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The jury is still out, and this just shows people need to be cautious, said Matthew Pase, Ph.D., a fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and an investigator at the Framingham Heart Study.
"More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health", he said.
Their findings only showed a link between daily consumption of diet sodas and increased likelihood of stroke and dementia.
Researchers found that adults who consumed at least one artificially sweetened drink per day were nearly three times more likely to develop stroke or dementia compared with those who drank the beverages less than once weekly. But after accounting for all lifestyle factors, the researchers found the link to dementia was statistically insignificant, however, the impact on stroke risk remained.
Gavin Partington, director-general of the industry-funded British Soft Drinks Association, said: "Despite their claims, the authors of this observational study admit they found no cause and effect and provide no science-based evidence whatsoever to support their theories".
However, even after excluding diabetics from the study, diet soda consumption was still associated with the risk of dementia. Furthermore, healthcare experts, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, acknowledge the role that no- and low-calorie sweeteners can have in managing health concerns, such as diabetes and obesity.
All this, said Dean M. Hartley, director of Science Initiatives at the Alzheimer's Association, points to an important reminder: Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation.