Sweet drinks may damage the brain, studies show

arto_canon_iStock/Thinkstock
arto_canon_iStock/Thinkstock

(BOSTON) — Two new studies from the same research group have found that those who consume one or more sugary drinks per day showed more brain shrinkage on MRI scans and performed more poorly on memory tests.

In one study, the observed effect was equivalent to a 3.5-year difference in brain aging seen on MRI and a 13-year difference in memory test performance, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found.

In a separate study, the same researchers found that those who consume more artificially sweetened drinks were nearly three times as likely to have a stroke.

The researchers also said these diet drink consumers were twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s dementia, though, importantly, this association disappeared once the researchers took into account certain health conditions of the subjects.

COMMENTS: These findings demonstrate an association between sugary drinks and brain changes and between diet drinks and brain changes. It does not necessarily prove causality — it could be that thirsty people have something else going on that affects their brains. Still, these findings are highly likely to get attention.

Click here to learn more on the stroke study and here for the Alzheimer’s and dementia study.

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