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Sugar-sweetened sodas up coronary heart disease risk

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Drinking sugar-sweetened sodas up heart disease risk

By David Liu PHD

Friday March 16, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study recently published in Circulation suggests that drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks or sodas may increase risk of coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease (CHD).

The study led by Lawrence de Koning of Harvard School of Public Health & Children's Hospital Boston in Boston, MA and colleagues found men whose consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the highest quartile were 20 percent more likely to suffer coronary heart disease, compared to those whose consumption was in the lowest quartile.

The association was derived from an analysis of data from 42,883 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up study.  During the 22-year follow-up, 3683 cases of coronary heart disease were identified.

The analysis already considered factors including age, smoking, physical activity, alcohol, multivitamins, family history, diet quality, energy intake, BMI, pre-enrollment weight change and dieting.

However, consumtpion of artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with coronary heart disease.

Further, consumption of sugar-sweetened but not artificially sweetened beverages was found significantly correlated with increased triglycerides, CRP, IL6, TNFr1, TNFr2, decreased HDL, Lp(a), and leptin.

The researchers concluded that "consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased risk of CHD and some adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors, and leptin. Artificially sweetened beverage intake was not associated with CHD risk or biomarkers."

Sugar-sweetened beverages or commonly known as soft drinks have been associated with weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the background information of the study report. The newly found associations suggest that sugar-sweetened soft drinks may also have an effect on the risk of coronary heart disease. 

The sugar used in sugar-sweetened beverages is often times high fructose corn syrup, which has been associated with the obesity epidemic in the United States.  Princeton University researchers have found that intake of fructose, one major sugar present in high fructose corn syrup, is more likely to induce weight gain, than intake of glucose, which is also present in high fructose corn syrup.

It is not absolutely certain whether sugar consumption can increase risk of coronary heart disease.   Known coronary heart disease risk factors include high blood cholesterol and triglyceride, high blood pressure, diabetes and prediabetes, overweight and obesity, smoking,  lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet and stress.

Heart disease is a leading killer disease in the United States.

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