Another Reason to Skip Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

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Here’s another reason to think twice before you reach for that sweet soda or sports drink. A 2019 study in Circulation reports that people who frequently drink sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, are at increased risk for premature death from cardiovascular disease. The increased mortality risk was also seen, to a lesser extent, for death from cancer.

Harvard researchers analyzed three decades of data from more than 117,000 health professionals. Researchers controlled for many variables, including other dietary factors, physical activity, family history, and body weight. The risk of death rose modestly with each additional daily sugar-sweetened beverage consumed. Artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet sodas, were not associated with increased or decreased mortality. The only exception: Women who consumed four or more diet drinks a day had an elevated risk of cardiovascular death compared to those who drank none. This and other similar studies do not show cause and effect. Participants’ beverage choices may have been affected by preexisting concerns about weight and diabetes.

“Our results support recommendations and policies to limit intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and to consume artificially sweetened beverages in moderation to improve overall health and longevity,” the researchers concluded. Your best beverage option? Plain water.