BOSTON (CBS) – Diet soda has long been touted as a healthier alternative to sugary soft drinks, but a new study raises some concerning questions.

According to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, consuming one or more artificially sweetened drinks per day may be linked to a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

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Those who drank one or more artificially sweetened drinks daily had a 2.89 times higher risk of dementia, and 2.96 higher risk of stroke than people who had less than one of those drinks per week.

The people studied are participating in the Framingham Heart Study, which is America’s longest-running heart study and is conducted in partnership with Boston University.

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There have been past studies exploring potential connections between artificial sweeteners and stroke risk, but this is believed to be the first study to look at a possible dementia risk.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Researchers are noting that this doesn’t mean sugary drinks are better for you.

“We have a robust body of literature on the adverse effects of sugary drinks,” Nutrition professor Rachel Johnson said in a statement. “Absolutely the message is not to switch to sugary drinks.”

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The bottom line, according to experts, is try to avoid “real soda,” drink less diet soda and have more water.