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Soda and diet-soda equally bad for brain
April 29, 2017, 4:05 pm
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New research suggests that excess sugar, especially the fructose sugar found in sugary drinks, might damage the brain resulting in poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume and a significantly smaller hippocampus — the area of the brain related to learning and memory. A follow-up study also found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.

Researchers behind the study were quick to caution that their findings demonstrate correlation but not cause-and-effect. While the researchers warn against over-consuming either diet soda or sugary drinks, they admit more research is needed to determine how these drinks actually damage the brain.

Excess sugar has long been associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, but little is known about its long-term effects on the human brain. Researchers examined data, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive testing results, from about 4,000 people.

In one study, the researchers looked at people who consumed more than two sugary drinks a day of any type — soda, fruit juice, and other soft drinks — or more than three per week of soda alone. Among that ‘high intake’ group, they found multiple signs of accelerated brain aging, including smaller overall brain volume, poorer episodic memory, and a shrunken hippocampus, all risk factors for early-stage Alzheimer's disease.

In a second study using data from a different group, the researchers looked specifically at whether participants had suffered a stroke or been diagnosed with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. After measuring volunteers' beverage intake at three points over seven years, the researchers then monitored the volunteers for 10 years, looking for evidence of stroke in 2,888 people over age 45, and dementia in 1,484 participants over age 60, they found that people who drank at least one diet soda per day were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia.

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