Soft Drinks Linked to Stroke in Women

Posted Wed, 11/14/2012 - 1:44pm by Camilla Cheung

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Research published this fall in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that women who frequently drink sugary soft drinks have an increased risk of stroke compared to women who seldom drank sugary drinks.

Researchers from the Japan Public Health Center investigated the link between soft drink intake and cardiovascular disease. Although drinking sugary soft drinks has been linked to obesity and diabetes, the link to cardiovascular disease has not been as clear.

The study involved almost 40,000 Japanese men and women who were given a food questionnaire, which was followed up by researchers between 1990 and 2008. According to the study, women who drank a sugary soft drink every day were 83 percent more likely to suffer from a stroke. Specifically, women who imbibed a soft drink every day were much more likely to suffer from a certain type of stroke — ischemic stroke, a kind of stroke which occurs due to plaque buildup in the arteries.

Out of the women who rarely had a soft drink, the risk of ischemic stroke was 1.7 percent. Out of the women who had a soft drink every day, 3 percent went on to have an ischemic stroke.

Researchers believe that sugar's effect on the body's metabolism increases the risk of stroke. The researchers say that high sugary drink intake increases the risk of obesity, high blood sugar and fats, hypertension, insulin resistance, and inflammation — all factors that raise the risk of ischemic stroke.

Although the study did not include diet drinks, other studies have shown an increased risk of stroke for daily diet drinkers as well. The study included sugar-sweetened juices, but did not include 100 percent fruit juices.

Interestingly, the study did not show the same increased risk of stroke among men who frequently drank sugary drinks. The authors speculate that perhaps men with early signs of cardiovascular disease cut down on their intake of sugary drinks.

There have been many efforts to help the public cut down on their intake of sugary drinks, from New York's ban on supersized soft drinks to decreased availability of soft drinks in schools. Experts encourage people who frequently drink soft drinks to choose healthier options, such as coffee, tea, and water.

How often do you drink soft drinks? Every day, or just once in a while? How difficult would it be for you to switch to a healthier drink?

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