If you consume artificially sweetened drinks in preference to those that contain sugar, you have an increased risk of having a stroke or developing dementia. Compared to people who do not drink artificially sweetened drinks, the risk for the most common type of stroke is 2.96 times higher, and for all types of stroke the risk is 1.87 higher. For Alzheimer’s disease, risk is 2.89 times higher in those who consumed artificially sweetened drinks, and 2.47 times higher for all types of dementia.
The findings come from a recent study that followed 2888 people for a period of 10 years. If you’re interested in the fine grain details, click here. It’s neat, straightforward research with easily understood implications.
While the researchers’ focus was on beverages that already contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, it is probably the case that these findings are as applicable to the artificial sweeteners that we add to our tea or coffee.
The prevalence of diabetes mellitus was higher in people who consumed artificially sweetened drinks. Diabetes is a known risk factor for dementia. As far as hypertension goes, there is an association between high blood pressure and consumption of artificially sweetened drinks, but we don’t know if this is because artificially sweetened drinks cause hypertension, or if people who are at risk favour artificially sweetened drinks.
Interestingly, intake of sugar-sweetened drinks was not associated with stroke or dementia. That’s not to suggest that you can consume massive amounts of sugar without health consequences. As always, everything in moderation.