Evidence about just how terrible diet soda is for your health is mounting. The latest? People who consumed at least one diet drink a day were nearly three times as likely to have a stroke or develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to people who had them less than once a week, per new research in the journal Stroke. And you thought saving the calories and sugar would be worth it.
Before you spit your soda across the room, you should know how the study was conducted. Participants in the Framingham Heart Study filled out food-frequency questionnaires, which asked them to recall what they ate throughout the year. For instance, they might say they drank soda, on average, twice per day, once a month, or never. (As you can imagine, this can be an inaccurate way of gathering data. It’s easy to forget what you eat. Quick: What did you have for lunch yesterday?)
Researchers had participants fill out these questionnaires three times over seven years. After ten years, they looked at how many cases of stroke and dementia occurred in two study groups: One group of 2,888 people over 45 were monitored for stroke, and a second group of 1,484 people over 60 were monitored for dementia; most of the participants were white (a notable fact given that people of color have higher stroke risk in the first place). They found that about 3 percent of the participants had a stroke (97 people), while 5 percent were diagnosed with dementia (81 cases of dementia, 63 of which were Alzheimer’s disease). Diet soda-drinkers were 2.96 times more likely to have a stroke and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
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