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Coronary heart disease linked to sugar-sweetened beverages

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By David Liu, PHD

Friday July 6, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has been associated with weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. But a new study now linked sugar-sweetened drinks with increased risk of coronary heart disease.

The study led  Lawrence de Koning, PhD of Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues showed that people with their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in the top quartile were 20 percent more likely to suffer coronary heart disease, than those whose intake was in the bottom quartile.  

The association was derived from an analysis that already considered other factors including age, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol drinking, multivitamins, family history, diet quality, energy intake, body mass index, weight change, and dieting practice.

After adjusting other risk factors including self-reported high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, the researchers found the association was slightly attenuated.

The analyses were based on data from 42,883 men who were enrolled in the Health professionals Follow-up Study.  During a 22-year follow-up, 3683 cases of coronary heart disease were identified.

Although the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was correlated with the risk for coronary heart disease, artificially sweetened beverage consumption was not significantly associated with coronary heart disease risk.
Specifically, drinking sugar-sweetened but not artificially sweetened beverages was correlated significantly with increased triglycerides, c-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor receptors 1 and 2, and decreased high density lipoprotein, lipoprotein(a) and leptin.

The researchers concluded "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."

One sugar that is most commonly used to sweeten beverages is high fructose corn syrup, which the industry now call corn sugar.  

Coronary heart disease or also known as coronary artery disease can be reversed by following a plant-based diet, according to Dr. Dean Ornish, a Harvard trained physician at the University of California in San Francisco California.  Dr. Ornish advised President Bill Clinton who suffered heart disease to use a plant-based diet and the president reported he lost lots of weight and felt great after starting to follow the diet.

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