Soda, sports drinks tied to higher risk of early death

Drinking Sugary Beverages Linked with Early Death

The drinks include carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks, which are the single largest source of added sugar in the diet in the US.

"These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors and the strong evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for premature death", said Walter Willett, Harvard's professor of epidemiology and nutrition.

Although the drinks were linked to increased risk of death from colon and breast cancer, the associated risk was significantly higher for dying prematurely from heart disease.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has always been urging people to replace sugary and diet drinks with plain, carbonated or unsweetened flavored water.

If you do choose to drink them, understand how the risk changes at higher levels of consumption: Those in the study who consumed two to six servings a week - where a serving is one standard glass, bottle or can - had a lower mortality risk than those who consumed them once a day, and considerably lower than those who consumed them twice or more a day. Even worse, that increase was more pronounced for women. While SSB consumption had been dropping in the US over the past decade, there's been an increase in consumption among USA adults in recent years.

There was also a modest link between sugary drinks and cancer rates among both men and women.

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Read the Circulation's article - Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults.

When people drink sodas and other sugary beverages, they may be more likely to develop risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health problems, Malik said.

Data for the analysis came from 37,716 men in the Health Professionals follow-up study and 80,647 women in the Nurses' Health Study.

Researchers said the association weakened, but remained true when researchers took into consideration lifestyle factors such as dietary factors, physical activity and demographics.

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.

If your dental bill hasn't scared you into foregoing sugary drinks, perhaps a new study from Harvard's School of Public Health will do the trick. "These beverages deliver no health benefits".

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