According to a study made by researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the journal Heart, the consumption of only 2 sweetened drink daily, including “diet plan” drinks, increases the danger of heart failure by up to 25%.
Despite the fact that earlier studies have shown a strong link between the consumption of sugary and diet drinks with numerous health issues, this is the first study to link these drinks with heart failure.
According to Gavin Sandercock of the University of Essex, who was not involved in the study, “This study is very intriguing. It shows there is no difference in the effects of drinks which do or do not contain any sugar.”
Robust Connection Found
At the start of the study, 42,400 men between the ages of 45 and 79 took part in the study. They were followed over the course of 12 years and all of them were asked how many soft drinks or sweetened juice drinks did they consume daily or weekly. The category of sweetened drinks included “diet” drinks but it excluded fruit juices with no added sweetener, coffee, and tea.
The participants who consumed two or more servings of sweetened drinks daily had a 23% higher rate of heart failure when compared to participants who consumed less than this quantity. This associated stayed the same after the researchers had adjusted for potential confounding factors. The connection still held after the scientists had repeated the analysis without anybody who was diagnosed with heart failure in the beginning of the study.
The researchers mentioned that the initial purpose of the study was not to show that sweetened drinks cause heart failure but merely that there is a link between the two. Given the fact that the study was done on older males, most of them white, we really need additional research to see if the association holds for other demographic.
Reasons For Link Still Unclear
According to the Spanish researchers Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez and Miguel Ruiz-Canela, the link may be explained by the fact that individuals who consume lots of sweetened drinks generally have poorer diets. Still, they have noted that sweetened drinks have been directly linked with risk factors for heart failure.
As reported by The Telegraph, “The well-known association of sweetened drinks with obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for heart failure, reinforces the biological plausibility of (the) findings.”
“Based on their results, the best message for a preventive strategy would be to advise a periodic consumption of sweetened drinks or to avoid them all together”– they add.
Other scientists suggest that sweetening agents confuse the brain, which in turn results in more snacking. According to Sandercock, “The adults who consumed two sweetened drinks a day also consumed the most coffee, consumed the most processed meat, consumed the least vegetables and they had more family history of heart disease. Trying to decide if sweetened drinks are the single reason for heart failure is impossible when diet and cardiac arrest are both such complicated issues.”
Earlier research has connected sweetened drinks, including diet drinks, with an elevated risk of metabolic conditions, consisting of hypertension, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. For instance, a 2014 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine has found that individuals who consume more diet soda are at an increased danger of stroke and heart attack.
In addition, according to a 2013 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, people who consumed more sweetened drinks were at higher risk of suffering from depression.