A new study has scientists wondering if artificially sweetened beverages can cause strokes and dementia.
Research published on Thursday in the American Heart Association's journal, Stroke, shows that participants who had at least one artificially sweetened drink a day were nearly three times more likely to develop a stroke or dementia than those who drank such a beverage fewer than once a week.
Scientists say the observational study doesn't prove a direct cause-and-effect link, but does show an association or trend that merits further research.
"The jury is still out, and this just shows people need to be cautious," Matthew Pase, a fellow at Boston University's medical school who worked on the study, said in a prepared statement.
Researchers examined the self-reported diets of 2,888 people over the age of 45 for stroke analysis and 1,484 people over the age of 60 for the study's dementia analysis. For seven years, researchers used food frequency questionnaires and then followed up for the next decade to see who developed strokes or dementia.
The study doesn't say regular sugary drinks are better for you or definitively say artificial sweeteners cause dementia or strokes. While researchers encourage the public not over interpret the findings, they do recommend to drink more water and less soda.