Study Finds Connection Between Consumption Of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks & Early Death

Two-liter bottles of regular and diet soda are seen for sale at a Manhattan store on May 31, 2012 in New York City.
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A study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found a connection between consumption of sugary soft drinks and an increased risk of early death from related diseases, reported CNN.

The study followed more than 450,000 people from 10 European countries for up to 19 years and tracked their soda intake. The research participants had no instances of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or stroke before participating in the study. The results found that those who drank two or more glasses of soda per day had a higher risk of early death than those that drank less than one glass every month. The type of soda was indifferent.

The study also looked at differences between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and diet soft drinks. People who consumed two or more glasses of the former per day were more likely to develop digestive system diseases while those who drank two or more glasses of the latter were more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases.

The study defined soft drinks as “low calorie or diet fizzy soft drinks,” “fizzy soft drinks,” and “fruit squash or cordials,” which are concentrated syrups that are combined with water and sugar.

Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, commented on the findings of the study in relation to digestive disease.

“Experimental evidence suggests that high blood sugar and high sugar intake can impair the gut barrier, leading to a ‘leaky gut’ and access to the gut immune system causing intestinal inflammation, alter gut microbiota and increase susceptibility to gut infections. These pathways may increase susceptibility to digestive diseases.”

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This study is not the first that has looked at the connection between carbonated soft drinks and disease. Previous studies have found a connection between consumption of diet beverages and stroke, dementia, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. In addition, some studies have found a connection between consumption of artificially sweetened drinks and an increased risk of clot-based strokes, heart attacks, and early death in women over 50.

These studies come with certain limitations, including the impossibility of determining whether the connection found between these types of drinks and developing certain diseases is due to a specific artificial sweetener, a type of beverage, or other health risk factors.

Experts recommend cutting back on sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks while focusing on consuming more water and naturally-flavored beverages. Plain water can be infused with fruit while those looking for a caffeine fix can find it naturally occurring in coffee and in green and black teas.