A research study was published in 2012 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine which looked at a very important health concern: The possible association between soft drinks and combined vascular events, including heart attacks and strokes.
This was an important study as it was the first done examining the possible association between diet sodas and vascular events. The negative effects of sugared soft drinks are well-documented, and this new study was very enlightening.
Over several years, the researchers followed participants, controlling for their ages, genders, race/ethnicity, education, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI, daily caloric intake, specific foods....basically, everything they could think of potentially affecting the study's outcome.
By the study's conclusion, several key points became clear:
- While previous research had pointed to an association between sugared sodas and Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, it is interesting to note that no connection to vascular events with regular sodas became evident (unless, of course, one considers the trajectory of insulin resistance and its connection to heart disease).
- While artificially sweetened sodas are marketed as healthier choices because of few calories, studies suggest they may also be associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and, now, heart attacks and stroke.
- Those participants drinking diet sodas daily were at an increased risk of 43% for a vascular event, compared to those not drinking sodas.
- Daily consumption of diet sodas was found to increase risk for heart attack to 66% compared to those not drinking diet beverages. (The greatest health risk from drinking diet beverages was heart attack.)
- After excluding all participants who were obese or had a history of diabetes or metabolic syndrome, there was a57% increased risk of a vascular event drinking regular sodas daily and a 59% increased risk drinking diet sodas daily. ( Even if healthier, people face serious risks ingesting these beverages.)
- Diet sodas are significantly associated with elevated blood glucose, increased waist circumference, and metabolic syndrome. (Ironic, since many people drink diet beverages to avoid these problems.)
- The caramel coloring in any type of soda is associated with inflammation.
Probably no one of common sense believes that sugar-sweetened sodas are a healthy choice. This study supports previous research and adds the important distinction that diet sodas, drunk regularly, greatly increase the risks for heart attacks and strokes to a long list of unfortunate effects.
No kidding, your soda or your life. Choose your summer beverages wisely and reap the happy results.