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Study: Excessive Consumption of Sugary Drinks Linked Alzheimer's Disease

If you want to keep your mind sharp, you may want to lay off the soda. Excessive drinking of sugary beverages may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

For the study, Dr. Ling Li, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her colleagues tested whether high sugar consumption in an otherwise normal diet would affect Alzheimer’s progression.

Researchers used a genetic mouse model and over a 25-week period supplemented the regular, balanced diet of half the animals with 10 percent sugar water. When the 25 weeks were up, they compared the metabolism, memory skills (by means of various mazes) and brain composition of the regular and sugar-fed mice.

This is what they found.

The sugar-fed mice gained about 17 percent more weight, had higher cholesterol levels, and developed insulin resistance. These mice also had worse learning and memory retention and their brains contained over twice as many amyloid plaque deposits, an anatomical hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Although the researchers cannot be certain if the increased mental impairment resulted specifically from the higher sugar intake or higher calories in general, these results do highlight the potential risk of sugary beverages, the researchers said.

The mice were fed the human dietary equivalent of roughly five cans of soda per day. The researchers said that, because mice have a higher metabolism than humans, it may actually take less sugar intake in humans to produce similar results.