The findings of a new study raise further concerns about the health risks associated with sugary drinks, indicating that consuming even a single soda a day may increase an individual’s risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or developing cardiovascular disease.
Reducing the intake of sugary drinks, like sodas, could be an easily achievable means to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly among women, according to researchers from the University of California San Diego. Their findings were published May 13 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers used data from the California Teachers Study, including data on more than 100,000 women, to conduct a cohort study of female teachers and administrators. Participants were asked to provide information about their sugary drink intake using a self-administrated food frequency questionnaire. The participants had no cardiovascular disease or diabetes at the beginning of the study.
The data included how often they drank sweetened beverages, including soda, sports drinks, fruit juice, tea, fruit drinks, and sweetened bottled waters. Researchers then used statewide hospitalization records to determine cardiovascular side effects.
Overall, more than 8,800 cardiovascular side effects occurred over the 20-year follow up period.
According to the findings, drinking one or more sodas or sugary drinks per day was linked to a 20% increased risk of having cardiovascular disease compared to women who rarely or never consumed sugary drinks. Women who drank sugary drinks were more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, coronary artery bypass, or develop cardiovascular disease.
Drinking one fruit drink with sugar per day increased a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease by 42% compared to those that did not drink fruit drinks at all. Fruit drinks were defined as fruity beverages with sugar, but not 100% fruit juice.
Daily soda drinkers had a 23% increased risk of cardiovascular disease overall.
The American Heart Association recommends women try to limit their added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories per day or 25 grams. Men should have no more than 150 calories or 38 grams.
Researchers speculate the effects of sugary drinks may stem from increased glucose levels and insulin concentrations in the blood, which increases appetite and leads to obesity.
Furthermore, sugar is also linked to inflammation, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Those conditions can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing or clogging of the arteries. This is often the beginning of cardiovascular disease for many people.
Researchers recommend consumers avoid sugary sodas, sports drinks and other beverages with added sugar as much as possible. Instead, drinking water is a better choice to sip on throughout the day.