TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who down several diet drinks a day may have a heightened risk of developing depression, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that of more than 260,000 older adults in a U.S. survey, those who had at least four daily servings of artificially sweetened soda, iced tea or fruit punch were at increased risk of being diagnosed with depression in the next decade.
People with a taste for sugar-sweetened drinks also showed a higher depression risk versus those who avoided the beverages. But the link was weaker than the one between diet drinks and depression, according to the study, which was released Jan. 8.
On the other hand, coffee lovers had a slightly lower depression risk than people who typically passed on the java.
What it all means, however, is anyone's guess.
"This probably creates more questions than it answers," said Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. And it definitely is not possible to lay the blame on diet drinks themselves, based on these findings alone, said Redei, who was not involved in the study.
Caution is in order, agreed study leader Dr. Honglei Chen, an investigator at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
"The research is preliminary and more investigation into the topic is needed," Chen said.
But, he added, the findings are "intriguing," and are consistent with a small but growing number of studies linking artificially sweetened drinks to poorer health.
The results were released by the American Academy of Neurology, ahead of its annual meeting in San Diego in March.
The findings are based on more than 260,000 Americans aged 50 to 71 who reported on their usual beverage habits. About a decade later, they were asked whether they'd been diagnosed with depression in the past se
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