This does not necessarily imply causality, however, as multiple other confounders may be present.
Drinking one sugar-free fizzy drink a day has been linked to a threefold increased risk of stroke and dementia, compared with people who drank one diet fizzy drink a week or less.
That research found that drinking one diet soft drink or more each day is linked to a tripled risk of having a stroke or developing dementia, compared to avoiding the drinks. Diets high in added sugars have been connected to heart risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure.
"It is possible that individuals with high intakes of sugary beverages may have died earlier from other illnesses such as heart disease", Pase told MedPage Today.
After accounting for these risk factors, the link was still significant between stroke and diet drinks, but was less dramatic for dementia and diet drinks.
"Association is not the same as causation, although the survival curves are impressive", Nestle said.
The team of scientists from Boston University believe the artificial sweeteners including aspartame and saccharine maybe affecting the blood vessels, eventually triggering strokes and dementia.
Several other experts commented on the "controversial but inconclusive" nature of the association.
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Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer's Association, said this study adds to a growing body of science that shows the importance of diet for the brain.
Pase, who studies how people can change behavior or diet to prevent dementia, said people need to be skeptical when deciding whether to select something with artificial sweeteners or real sugar.
The Framingham Heart Study, first started back in 1948, has followed the cardiovascular health of thousands upon thousands of residents of Framingham, Massachusetts over the decades. Both groups were primarily Caucasian and were just under 50% male. The researchers reviewed this information at three different points in time over a period of seven years.
In this latest study - published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke - researchers looked at 4,372 adults over the age of 45.
"We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us".
Consuming diet fizzy drinks every day nearly triples the risk of developing dementia, a major new study suggests.
However, an increasing number of studies are finding that artificially sweetened products are far from innocent.
People did not drink sugary drinks as often as diet ones, which the authors said could be one reason they did not see the same link with regular soda.
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Also using data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort, this study found that people who more frequently consumed sugary beverages, including sodas and fruit juices, were more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volumes, and smaller hippocampal volumes.
Matthew Pase, a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, and the lead author of the diet drinks study, says it's important to note that the absolute dementia risk for any one person who drinks diet pop is low.
"This kind of research is critical for examining and uncovering public health relationships that may eventually lead to actionable recommendations", added Fargo.
"Rather than focusing on results from observational studies, which can not establish cause and effect, individuals should talk to their health care team to address known risks for stroke and dementia", he said.
The researchers acknowledged several study limitations, including the observational nature of the data, the absence of ethnic minorities, and the use of a self-reported questionnaire to obtain dietary intake data, which may be subject to recall bias.
"Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate", he said in a statement. The Alzheimer's Association has been advocating increased research funding, including a $400 million boost for 2017 through the National Institutes of Health, now pending before Congress, and at least another $414 million for 2018.
Sacco received a National Institutes of Health grant for the Northern Manhattan Study.
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