Studying can be such a crap. Especially when they tell you that your favorite snack or drink will kill you. Now it’s the lemonade lover’s turn to be disappointed. Whether you’re drinking full sugar soda or the diet kind, there’s bad news on the research front. Two new studies tell us that sugary sodas are linked to cancer, while sugar-free sodas can cause heart disease.
Wait, isn’t that backwards you might be wondering? We know that aspartame has long been suspected of being a carcinogen, although the research has been elusive. But it just makes sense that adding chemicals to your diet isn’t good for you. It is a proven fact that aspartame is converted to formaldehyde in the body. But a new study has found a link between sugar-free drinks and stroke, heart attack and an increased risk of heart disease.
In the meantime, a soda full of sugar would make sense to be associated with heart disease, since weight gain and high blood sugar are precursors to high cholesterol and markers of heart disease and stroke. But what this study found is that drinking two or more sugary drinks a day can increase your risk of dying from cancer, particularly colon cancer (up 9 percent compared to non-soda drinkers) or kidney cancer (17 percent higher than non-sugary drinks). drinking crowd).
Grab a glass of water and keep reading what the science says now.
Study: Sugary drinks linked to higher risk of dying from cancer
The researchers looked at data from nearly a million Americans over three decades and found that people who consumed sugary beverages had an increased risk of dying from cancer compared to those who didn’t drink sugar-filled sodas.
In the 27-year study, the researchers wanted to find out whether sugary drinks lead to cancer mortality and reviewed data collected by the American Cancer Society, beginning in 1982 with 1,184,284 men and women ages 28 and older, who participated in the Cancer Prevention Study II.
The researchers focused on 934,777 participants who did not have cancer or diabetes at baseline and followed them for nearly 28 years, during which 135,093 of the enrolled group died from cancer, accounting for nearly 26 percent of all deaths.
Higher soda consumption increases the risk of cancer
The study found that the person who drank two sugary drinks a day had a 9 percent higher risk of dying from colon cancer and a 17 percent higher risk of dying from kidney cancer compared to people who avoided sugary drinks.
“This study provides further evidence for recommendations to reduce sugary beverages,” said Marji McCullough, senior scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta and lead author of the study. It wasn’t just responsible for the fact that these people had higher BMIs, she added, so the soda must have had an impact, but the exact mechanism that led to the higher risk isn’t known.
Drinking a similar amount of artificially sweetened beverages was associated with an 11 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer, she added, regardless of the person’s BMI. “This was a novel finding,” McCullough said. “But this is the only study that found a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, and it should be replicated in follow-up studies.”
Since 33 percent of all sugar in the American diet comes from sugary beverages, this new study should have an impact on where Americans get the sugar in their diets. Sugar is often found in highly processed foods, junk foods, and sodas, all of which are largely devoid of nutrients. The best way to get sweet calories for long-term health is whole fruit as part of a mostly plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
This study follows another that linked sugary drinks to liver cancer. This study of more than 90,000 postmenopausal women found that those who consumed at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day were at a 78 percent higher risk of developing liver cancer than people who consumed fewer than three servings of such beverages a month.
Artificial sweeteners linked to stroke, heart disease
Before you grab a Diet Coke, a second study tells us that sugar-free sodas are linked to heart disease. This new study found that people who use artificial sweeteners (found in diet drinks and other highly processed foods) are more likely to get heart disease.
In a study of 103,388 people ages 18 and older who were willing to keep food and drink logs detailing their use of artificial sweeteners, researchers divided consumers into three groups: those who eat a lot, a modest amount, or hardly any used at all.
The researchers tracked who had the most incidents of cardiovascular disease and found that those who used the most artificial sweeteners also suffered the most Cardiovascular diseases compared to non-users. These health issues included heart attacks, strokes, and more. Some of the sweeteners tested included:
- steviol glycosides
“Our results show that these food additives, which are consumed by millions of people every day and are found in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several health authorities,” they write authors.
“Aspartame intake was associated with an increased risk of cerebrovascular events, and acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease,” the authors added. They also said that occasional use of artificial sweeteners is not as problematic as daily use.
In case you weren’t paying attention, 2019 isn’t the first time diet drinks have been linked to heart problems.
A 2019 study found that consuming two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day was associated with an increased risk of blood clot-related strokes, heart attacks, and early death in women over 50. Further research has shown a link between diet drinks and stroke, dementia, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, all of which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
Bottom Line: Sugary Drinks Linked to Cancer, Artificial Sweeteners to Stroke
Whether you love sugary or artificially sweetened sodas, new studies warn they’ve been linked to cancer, stroke, heart disease and death. The simplest solution is to stay away from these types of drinks or only drink them occasionally as a reward. Do you want to be the healthiest and avoid an increased risk of cancer and heart disease? Very simple: Just drink water.
For more research-backed content, check out The Beet’s health and nutrition articles.