Sugar filled coffee, soda could be linked to early death

Scientists have found even more evidence it’s time to ditch the soda, put down the lemonade, and drop the sugary-sweet coffee routine. These sweet drinks taste good, but they may also set drinkers up for early death.

A 34 year-long study of more than 118,000 men and women across the US released Monday in the journal Circulation suggests that people who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to die from all sorts of reasons, and especially from heart problems and cancers. Diet soda and sugar substitutes may not be much better when consumed in large doses.

Scientists have long known these drinks can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, but this latest evidence is the most damning so far that sugary drinks can be deadly.

“Diet soda may be used to help frequent consumers of sugary drinks cut back their consumption, but water is the best and healthiest choice,” lead study author Vasanti Malik, a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a press release.

The authors of this study found that drinking four or more artificially-sweetened beverages a day also upped women’s odds of dying. They couldn’t say the same for men.

A double-whammy health threat from sugar and lack of exercise

It’s unwelcome news because people who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages are also more likely to be less physically active, which means they’re subject to a kind of double-whammy health threat.

Following participants in two long-term studies for 34 years, researchers noticed that people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages were more likely to die — and the more sugar, the higher the risk of death.

Compared to people who had just one sugary beverage a month (not including fruit juice) women who drank more than 24 ounces of syrupy beverages every day had a 63% higher risk of death, and men upped their risk 29%.

There are some caveats. Because this study was observational, and scientists didn’t require people to sit around in a lab for decades while they collected data, we can’t be sure that there’s a causal link between early death and sugary drinks.

It could be that people who drink more sugar die young because of all the other things they’re doing that are bad for their health, like consuming more calories, eating more red meat, and eating fewer vegetables. But even when the researchers in this study controlled for factors like diet, physical activity, body mass index, and age, they still found that people who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages were more likely to die early.

The good news is that cutting back even a little bit on sugar can help. Instead of adding sugar to your coffee or downing a soda, try drinking coffee with cream and cinnamon or sprucing up your seltzer with a little lemon.

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