Sugary drinks linked with increased risk of death, study shows

Alicia Farmer
March 19, 2019

"Diet soda may be used to help frequent consumers of sugary drinks cut back their consumption, but water is the best and healthiest choice".

In the study, researchers analysed data from 80,647 women and 37,716 men, who answered questionnaires about lifestyle factors and health status every two years.

Artificially sweetened beverages could be used to replace sugary drinks, but high consumption of the artificially sweetened drinks should also be discouraged, the research team says. But they also found a high intake of artificially-sweetened drinks (four or more per day) was linked to a slightly increased risk of overall and cardiovascular-related death among women, so they cautioned against overimbibing those types of drinks.

Their findings showed a clear connection, with women who drank two or more sugary beverages a day being 63 per cent more likely to die prematurely than women who had one sugar-sweetened beverage a month or fewer. A large long-term study of US men and women led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) may increase the risk of premature death, particularly for women.

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The link between sugary drinks and cardiovascular disease mortality was a little stronger for women than for men, which the researchers speculated could be down to metabolic differences between the sexes. Overall, the study indicates that consuming sugary drinks increases risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease by 31 percent, and cancer by 18 percent. Sweetened with sugar substitutes, diet beverages were not linked with an increased risk of death in most cases during the study period.

Both studies indicate a link between artificially sweetened beverages and women's risk of death, said Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who was author of last month's study. A new study agrees. "Replacing sugar sweetened beverages with other beverages, particularly water, is one strategy to improve health and longevity".

Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council, an organization representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry, cautions against drawing conclusions from this and other observational studies.

American Beverage Association spokesperson told CNN: "We don't think anyone should overconsume sugar, that's why we're working to reduce the sugar people consume from beverages across the country".

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