New US research has found that consuming one or more sugary drinks per day could increase a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
Carried out by researchers at the University of California San Diego, the new study looked at more than 106,000 women with an average age of 52 who were free of heart disease, stroke and diabetes when they enrolled in the study.
The women were asked to report on what and how many sugary drinks they consumed each day, defined in the study as caloric soft drinks, sweetened bottled waters or teas, and sugar-added fruit drinks, but not 100% fruit juices.
The researchers used hospital records to determine who experienced a heart attack, stroke or surgery to open clogged arteries during the course of the study.
The findings showed that the participants who drank the most sugar-sweetened beverage intake were younger, more likely to be current smokers and were also obese and less likely to eat healthy foods.
They also found that drinking one or more sugary beverages every day was linked with nearly a 20% higher risk of having cardiovascular disease, a 21% higher risk of having a stroke and a 26% higher chance of needing a procedure to open clogged arteries, such as angioplasty, compared to women who rarely or never drank sugary beverages.
The type of sugary drink consumed also appeared to affect the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular problem, with drinking one or more sugar-added fruit drink daily linked with a 42% greater risk of having cardiovascular disease, and drinking soft drinks such as sodas every day linked with a 23% higher risk, compared to those who rarely or never drank sugary beverages.
“Although the study is observational and does not prove cause and effect, we hypothesise that sugar may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in several ways. It raises glucose levels and insulin concentrations in the blood, which may increase appetite and lead to obesity, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” commented lead study author Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, MS.
“In addition, too much sugar in the blood is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, insulin resistance, unhealthy cholesterol profiles and type 2 diabetes, conditions that are strongly linked to the development of atherosclerosis, the slow narrowing of the arteries that underlies most cardiovascular disease,” said Anderson.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 100 calories a day (6 teaspoons of sugar or 25 grams) for most women, and no more than 150 calories a day (9 teaspoons of sugar or 38 grams) for most men.
To put it into context, a typical 12-ounce (355ml) can of regular soda has 130 calories and 8 teaspoons (34 grams) of sugar. The researchers add that water is the healthiest beverage to drink regularly and has no sugar, no artificial sweeteners and no calories.