The diet-drinkers were also 29% more like to develop heart disease and 16% more likely to die from any cause.
The research, described as among the first to probe the connection between artificially sweetened beverages and specific types of stroke, involved tracking the health of over 81,700 post-menopausal women aged between 50 and 79 years in the United States for over a decade.
Dr Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition emeritus at the University of Vermont and chairwoman of the writing group for the American Heart Association's science advisory, Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages And Cardiometabolic Health, said: "This study adds to the evidence that limiting use of diet beverages is the most prudent thing to do for your health". Although the researchers discoverd a link between the drinks and stroke and heart disease, the study did not examine the specific types of artificially sweetened beverages and can not determine which ingredients are not healthy.
In the latest look at the popular beverages, researchers found that older women who drank more diet drinks had a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as a higher risk of dying early from any cause, compared to women who drank fewer of the drinks.
She agreed that more research is needed to further explore a possible diet drink-heart disease connection. Is it something about the sweeteners? "Is there something about the artificial sweeteners, for example, that affect the bacteria in the gut and lead to health issues?" "These are questions we need answered", Mossavar-Rahmani said.
At the end of three years, the women were asked to report on their consumption of diet drinks, low calorie, artificially sweetened colas, fruit drinks, sodas etc. over the previous three months. But at the same time, you can't brush off these findings either.
In a 2017 study, published in the same journal, researchers monitored more than 4,000 people over 45 who had filled out food-frequency questionnaires and had periodic health examinations between 1991 and 2001.
Investigators tracked the general health of all the enrollees for an average of almost 12 years.
The risks are higher for women with no history of heart disease. There were similar, although weaker, associations for dementia risk. The data collected did not include information about the specific artificial sweetener the drinks contained. While this study identifies an association between diet drinks and stroke, it does not prove cause and effect because it was an observational study based on self-reported information about diet drink consumption.