Sugar-sweetened beverages related to premature death in the new Harvard study

The more a person drinks sugary drinks a day, the greater the risk of premature death from heart disease or cancer, according to a new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published Monday in the journal Circulation.

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"Our findings provide additional support to limit the ingestion of SSB and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve health and longevity," said the main perpetrator, Vasanti Malik, in a press release issued by a university.

For the new long-term study of Americans, Malik and his team analyzed the data of 80,647 women participating in the nurses' health study between 1980 and 2014 and 37,716 men in the follow-up study on the health of nurses. health professionals (1986-2014). All participants in the study responded to the lifestyle and health questionnaires every two years.

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The researchers adapted to all major factors in their diet and lifestyle and found that a link between monthly consumption and four SSBs was associated with a 1% increase in the risk of premature death; two to six drinks a week were associated with a 6% increase; one to two per day with a 14% increase and at least two SSBs per day was associated with a 21% increase.

Heart disease was the leading cause of premature death, followed by colon and breast cancer.

According to the study, "the increased risk of premature death from SSB consumption was more pronounced in women than in men" and there was also a "particularly strong link" between SSB and an increased risk of death. premature with heart disease.

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In fact, compared to people who do not drink SSB often, those who drank at least two servings a day of SSB had a 31% higher risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease. An extra portion per day was associated with a 10% increase in the risk of premature death from heart disease.

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What about artificially sweetened drinks?

According to the researchers, "the replacement of SSBs with ASBs was associated with a moderately lower risk of premature death," but there was also a link between the consumption of at least four servings of BSA per day and increased risk. mortality in women.

What is so different in women and increases their risk of premature death remains a mystery and "requires further confirmation," noted Malik and colleagues in the study. Since the study is observational in nature, the results can not establish cause and effect.

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Malik's advice? Stick to the water.

"Drinking water instead of sugary drinks is a healthy choice that could contribute to longevity," Malik told MarketWatch in a statement. "Diet sodas can be used to help heavy drinkers reduce their consumption, but water is the best and healthiest choice."

Previous search

"The big picture really starts to emerge," Malik told CNBC. "It's not random. There is a lot of consistency in these results. "

In fact, previous studies have indeed found a correlation between SSB and health problems related to weight gain, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

In 2017, the Boston University Medical Center also released a study linking SSBs, poor memory, and lower brain volume. According to MarketWatch, BU researchers have observed that "a daily diet-soda habit was linked to a much higher risk of having a stroke and dementia."

Finally, a study published last month in the journal Stroke reveals that women over the age of 50 who drink more than one ASB a day are at higher risk for stroke, heart attack or stroke. premature death.

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Statement from the American Beverage Association

In a statement to CNN, William Dermody Jr., ABA spokesperson, said:

"Soft drinks, like all drinks in our industry, are safe for consumption as part of a balanced diet … The sugar used in our beverages is the same as the one used in d & # 39; other food products. We think that no one should overeat sugar, that's why we are working to reduce the sugar consumed by drinks all over the country. … [L]Calorie-free and calorie-free sweeteners have been repeatedly confirmed as safe by regulators around the world. "

How much sugar can be safely consumed?

The American Heart Association recommends men not consume more than 36 grams of added sugar a day and women to limit their intake of sugar to 25 grams. A can of 12 ounce soda (about 140-150 calories) contains between 35 and 37.5 grams of sugar.

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