Harvard University and Cleveland Clinic researchers have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a higher risk of stroke.
Conversely, consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk.
The Harvard and Cleveland Clinic study is the first to examine soda’s effect on stroke risk.
Earlier studies have linked sugar-sweetened beverage consumption with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout and coronary artery disease. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“Soda remains the largest source of added sugar in the diet,” said Adam Bernstein, M.D., Sc.D., study author and Research Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “What we’re beginning to understand is that regular intake of these beverages sets off a chain reaction in the body that can potentially lead to many diseases – including stroke.”
The research analyzed soda consumption among 43,371 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2008, and 84,085 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1980 and 2008. During that time, 2,938 strokes were documented in women while 1,416 strokes were documented in men.
In sugar-sweetened sodas, the sugar load may lead to rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin which, over time, may lead to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
Learn more about sweetened beverages in Worse Than Sugar: High Fructose Corn Syrup
These physiologic changes influence atherosclerosis, plaque stability and thrombosis – all of which are risk factors of ischemic stroke. This risk for stroke appears higher in women than in men.
In comparison, coffee contains chlorogenic acids, lignans and magnesium, all of which act as antioxidants and may reduce stroke risk. When compared with one serving of sugar-sweetened soda, one serving of decaffeinated coffee was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke.
Read Jonathan Galland’s article Coffee vs. Diabetes
Am J Clin Nutr May 2012 ajcn.030205 ,“Soda consumption and the risk of stroke in men and women” Adam M Bernstein, Lawrence de Koning, Alan J Flint, Kathryn M Rexrode, and Walter C Willett, From the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Lyndhurst, OH (AMB); and the Departments of Nutrition (AMB, AJF, LdK, and WCW) and Epidemiology (AJF and WCW), Harvard School of Public Health, and the Channing Laboratory (AJF and WCW) and Division of Preventive Medicine (KMR), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Supported by grants from the NIH, Department of Health and Human Services.