Study Links Diet Sodas To Stroke And Dementia And Now we Have Nothing To Drink

by Meredith Bland
Image via Shutterstock

Artificial sweeteners are associated with a higher risk for strokes and dementia

Fellow diet soda drinkers, we have some bad news. According to science, our favorite drink may be associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia. It’s time to take a hard look at our priorities…our delicious, thirst-quenching priorities.

I am a dedicated Diet Coke drinker. I love it. I’ve been drinking it almost daily for years, and now it looks like I will end up incapacitated in a nursing home somewhere because of it. Save up your money, kids — Momma’s gonna need round-the-clock care from a cute male nurse in about thirty years.

In a study in this month’s Stroke Journal (bathroom reading material for doctors and the clinically depressed), researchers tracked more than 4,000 adults over the age of 45 and looked at how many sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks they had between 1991 and 2001. Then, for the following ten years, they kept track of the incidence of stroke or dementia in those groups. After controlling for everything from diet to age to sex to smoking, they found that “higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia.” There was no such association for those who drank sugar-sweetened drinks.

CNN laid out some of the more eye-twitch-inducing results in their article on the study: “Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels…They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Those who drank one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week were 2.6 times as likely to experience an ischemic stroke but were no more likely to develop dementia.”

Oh, Aspartame, you tasty lying whore.

It’s important to point out that what they’ve found is an association, not causation — they haven’t proved that it’s artificial sweeteners that are the culprit here, but it sure doesn’t look good.

In response to the study, a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association (ABA) furiously mopped up their flop sweat, breathed into a paper bag, and released a statement that said, “The FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion — they are safe for consumption. While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not — and cannot — prove cause and effect.”

Fine. That’s fine. But pardon me if I’m more skeptical about the ABA’s view on diet sodas than that of doctors who are trying to prevent strokes and dementia.

For those of us who are swayed by this study and figure we might as well go ahead and quit the stuff, this is going to leave a 12-ounce-aluminum-can-shaped hole in our hearts. And what is left for us to drink? Coffee? Well, they used to tell us that coffee would give us heart attacks, but now they tell us it will help us live longer (and happier, let’s be honest) lives. What about water? Surely water’s okay, right? Nope. There can even be issues with frickin’ water because we can’t have anything nice.

So, thanks, science. Now, all we have left are saliva and tears, which will be the name of the saliva and tears bar I will open up in a few years. In the meantime, go outside and pour one out for diet sodas. And make it a Coke because if we have to go we’re taking those sugary fools down with us.

(h/t Good Housekeeping)