SARASOTA – Are you a daily diet soda drinker? You may be three times at risk for stroke and dementia.

That’s according to a new study from the Boston University School of Medicine. Neurologist Alan Grindal with the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Memory Disorder Clinic says that while the study is alarming, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a direct correlation between diet soda and dementia.

“People who drink soft drinks with artificial sweeteners may more likely be for example overweight, or they may have diabetes,” says Grindal. “So being overweight, obesity, diabetes, are risk factors for dementia.”

What especially caught his eye in the study is that “People who drank soft drinks with sugar did not have the increased risk as individuals who drank soft drinks with artificial sugars,” Grindal says.

Grindal says there hasn’t been much research to suggest artificial sweeteners are risk factors, but while he has some doubt, “Three times the risk is pretty significant to me, so I think we need to be sure that there is not something within the artificial sweetener itself that may be the cause and effect,” he says.

In the meantime, there are ways to prevent and pro-long dementia. “Most important I think is to be physically active, eating well, low-sugar diet,” says Grindal.

It’s also important to keep your mind active. “Reading, puzzles, something that challenges your mind,” Grindal suggests.

The researchers do not know which artificial sweeteners were in the soft drinks in this study.

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