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14-03-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages raises CHD risk in men


Free abstract

MedWire News: Men who drink sugar-sweetened drinks, including sodas and noncarbonated fruit drinks, may be increasing their risk for developing coronary heart disease (CHD), show results of a US study.

The findings published in Circulation show that every one-serving increase in sugar-sweetened beverage intake increased CHD risk by 19%. Drinking sugary drinks was also associated with some adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors, and leptin.

These results "support recommendations to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in order to prevent CVD [cardiovascular disease]," remark Frank Hu (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts) and co-investigators.

The team analyzed data from 42,883 middle-aged men (aged 40-75 years) who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to investigate the association between sugar- and artificially sweetened beverage intake and incident CHD (nonfatal or fatal myocardial infarction).

Participants completed a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire every 4 years. The questionnaire asked them to report their usual intake (never to six or more times per day) of a standard 355 mL (12 oz) serving (one glass, can, or bottle) of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages.

At baseline, mean sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was slightly less than that of artificially sweetened beverages, at 2.5 drinks per week (0.36/day) versus 3.4 per week (0.49/day).

Over 22 years of follow-up, there were 3683 incident cases of CHD, report Hu et al.

Individuals in the highest quartile of sugar-sweetened beverage intake (median 6.5/week) had a 20% higher relative risk for CHD than those who never consumed sugar-sweetened drinks after adjusting for multiple lifestyle-related factors including overall diet quality and body mass index.

There was no significant association between artificially sweetened beverage consumption and CHD, notes the team.

Intake of sugar-sweetened, but not artificially sweetened beverages, was also associated with significant increases in triglycerides, C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 and 2, and significant decreases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lipoprotein(a), and leptin.

In an accompanying editorial, Mark Luffman (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA) says these findings add to the "growing body of information" that suggests an independent association between sugar-sweetened beverages and worse cardiovascular health.

"The question remains as to whether there is something specific about [sugar sweetened beverages] that leads to CHD… or is it simply increased caloric intake over time that was not captured through the authors' semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire," he writes.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Nikki Withers