We already know that regular diet soda consumption is linked to obesity and dental issues. But two alarming studies from scientists at Boston University show the surprising effects that a soda habit — especially diet soda — has on the brain. Researchers found that people who drank diet soda regularly were up to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia or to suffer a stroke than those who do not consume the stuff.
Researchers found that frequent consumption of sugar (like in soft drinks) leads to poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a smaller hippocampus, which can cripple healthy brain development and usage. However, researchers also noted that, while these studies show clear correlation, they only suggest causation.
“These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it's strong data and a very strong suggestion,” says study author Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and a faculty member at BU's Alzheimer's Disease Center. “It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn't seem to help.”