Two Sodas a Day May Shorten Life

A study now suggests that drinking two soft drinks a day increases a person’s risk of dying from all causes — even if they are diet drinks. It seems all sweetened soft drinks — be it from sugar or calorie-free sweeteners — damage health.

Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer looked at data from more than 451,000 people from 10 European countries. On average, the participants were 51 years old when they joined the study, and their health was tracked for 16 years. The results showed that soda-drinkers had a higher risk of dying over 16 years than folks who drank soft drinks less than once a month.

Our results for sugar-sweetened soft drinks provide further support to limit consumption and to replace them with healthier beverages, preferably water,” study senior author Neil Murphy said.

The study found that the death rates for people drinking two sodas a day, versus the people who had less than one a month, were 26 percent higher. Their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was heightened by 52 percent. Studying the results in-depth, the scientists saw that drinking sugar-sweetened soda was linked to a higher risk of death from digestive disease. Artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with a higher risk of death from circulatory diseases. Overall, soda was also linked to a higher risk of death from Parkinson’s disease.

However, it should be noted that this does not prove cause and effect but correlation. People who drink more than two sweet drinks a day may have other things in common, like a poor diet or smoking. Moreover, people drinking diet soda may have switched to artificial sweeteners to shed pounds if they were overweight as the beginning of the study, which would increase their health risks. However, when the researchers narrowed down the group and looked solely at people with a healthy weight, they saw the same higher mortality rates.

Regardless of if it’s causation or correlation, the finds do give us pause. Whenever we hear of news like this, it makes us reevaluate our habits. Even if you’re not ready to give up sweetened drinks, perhaps replacing one a day with water is a step in the right direction.

Registered dietician Lisa Drayer said that going “cold turkey” can backfire when you are trying to give up soda. “Cut back by one serving per day until you’re down to one drink per day,” Drayer said. “Then aim for one every other day until you can phase out soft drinks entirely. Alternate with seltzer/sparkling water can help you cut back. Eventually you can replace soft drinks with seltzer or sparkling water if you are craving carbonation.

It’s good advice; we’re going to follow it ourselves!
September 11, 2019
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