Study links soda, sweetened beverages to heart failure

The new study with Swedish men is the latest to show the potentially significant health risks of daily consumption of soft drinks.
By Stephen Feller  |  Nov. 3, 2015 at 3:17 PM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The latest in a long line of studies showing the potential for sweetened beverages such as soda to have a significantly poor effect on health suggests daily consumption of soft drinks increases the risk of developing heart failure.

A large study of Swedish men found drinking two or more sweetened beverages per day increases the risk for heart failure, a chronic condition characterized by the heart's inability to properly pump blood.

Although researchers said the study likely can be applied to men in the United States as well, more research would need to be done on the American population because of differences in culture and diet.

Other recent studies have also found daily consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and for fatty liver disease.

"The takeaway message is that people who regularly consume sweetened beverages should consider limiting their consumption to reduce their risk of heart failure," Dr. Susanna Larsson, a researcher at the Stockholm Karolinska Institutet, told CNN.

Researchers in the Swedish study, published in the British Medical Journal, followed the food habits of 42,400 men between the ages of 45 and 79 from 1998 through 2010. Researchers gathered the data using a questionnaire, and did not consider tea, coffee or juice, limiting consideration to specifically those with sugar or artificial sweeteners added.

The researchers documented 4,113 cases of heart failure among the men, leaving a 23 percent higher chance for developing heart failure for men consuming two or more servings of soft drinks per day when compared with those who avoid the beverages. The data were adjusted for other risk factors including family history, smoking, BMI, health conditions and dietary factors.

In an editorial published in the British Medical Journal with the study, researchers from the University of Navarra point out that while additional research is needed to learn how soft drinks increase the chance for heart disease, there is little question of the health benefits of cutting down on the beverages, if not excising them from diets entirely.

"It is safe to admit that sweetened beverages are usually components of a poor quality dietary pattern and that overall dietary patterns better represent the broader picture of food habits and are more important determinants of disease than any isolated food or beverage," the researchers wrote. "Meanwhile more research in this field is available, and taking into account the existing evidence, the advice to the general population should be that their most sensible option will be to reduce or eliminate their consumption of sweetened beverages replacing them with water to comply with the requirements for a good hydration."

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