From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published April 23, 2012 09:41 AM

Drinking Soda Increases the Risk of Stroke

Some of the most heavily marketed drinks around the world are sodas, ranging from your average cola to flavored colas to fruity colas. Their sweet sugary taste is irresistible for some, adding to their addictive quality. Unfortunately, sodas are perhaps the most unhealthy drink, besides alcohol. With the rise of obesity and diabetes around the world, sodas are taking a lot of blame. A new study from Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute and Harvard University has found that sodas also contribute to the risk of stroke. This also includes low-calorie soda.


The study – recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – is the first to examine soda's effect on stroke risk. Previous research has linked sugar-sweetened beverage consumption with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout and coronary artery disease.

"Soda remains the largest source of added sugar in the diet," said Adam Bernstein, M.D., Sc.D., study author and Research Director at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute. "What we're beginning to understand is that regular intake of these beverages sets off a chain reaction in the body that can potentially lead to many diseases – including stroke."

The research analyzed soda consumption among 43,371 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2008, and 84,085 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study between 1980 and 2008. During that time, 2,938 strokes were documented in women while 1,416 strokes were documented in men.

In sugar-sweetened sodas, the sugar load may lead to rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin which, over time, may lead to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and inflammation. These physiologic changes influence atherosclerosis, plaque stability and thrombosis – all of which are risk factors of ischemic stroke. This risk for stroke appears higher in women than in men.

In comparison, coffee contains chlorogenic acids, lignans and magnesium, all of which act as antioxidants and may reduce stroke risk. When compared with one serving of sugar-sweetened soda, one serving of decaffeinated coffee was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke.

The study also found other correlations with other dietary factors. For example, the researchers found that soda drinkers were more likely to eat red meat and whole-fat dairy products (i.e. cheeseburgers). They also had lower physical activity rates.

Those who drink low-calorie soda were found to have higher incidence of chronic disease and a higher body mass index. All these other factors were controlled in the scientific analysis of stroke risk.

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