Sweetened beverages again linked to stroke risk, and effects could be dose-related, says new study


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"This is not the first study showing a correlation of soda intake to stroke, but the data in this study are especially cleanly dose-related" - Prof Marion Nestle, New York University
"This is not the first study showing a correlation of soda intake to stroke, but the data in this study are especially cleanly dose-related" - Prof Marion Nestle, New York University

Related tags: Obesity, Diabetes mellitus

Increased intakes of sweetened beverages may increase the risk of stroke, says a new study from Sweden.

The data, which is consistent with previous findings, indicated that consuming two servings per day of sweetened beverages increased the risk of cerebral infarction (a type of ischemic stroke) by 22%, compared to consuming less than two servings per week, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Susanna Larsson, Agneta Akesson, and Alicja Wolk from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden note that there are several biologically plausible mechanisms to support the association, including links between sweetened beverage consumption and increased levels of markers of inflammation, increased blood glucose and insulin levels, and promotion of weight gain and the subsequent complications associated with being overweight or obese.


Commenting independently on the study’s findings Professor Marion Nestle from the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, told us that this is not the first study showing a correlation of soda intake to stroke, “but the data in this study are especially cleanly dose-related. 

“In this study, one soft drink a day is associated with a slightly increased risk of stroke.  That means one 8-ounce drink.  Two 8-ounce drinks—16 ounces—is associated with a 22% increase in risk.  Nobody is worried about an occasional small soda.  If these results hold true, then the average soda consumption of the half the population that drinks sodas on any given day is already at the level of increased stroke risk. 

“This study provides further evidence that sugary beverages increase diseasre risk.  Stroke joins obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dental disease as results of habitual soft drink consumption.”​  

Study details

Larsson, Akesson, and Wolk examined data from 32,575 women aged between 49 and 83 and 35,884 men aged between 45 and 79. All of the participants were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes at the start of the study. Sweetened beverage consumption, which included sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks, was measured by food-frequency questionnaire.

During the decade of study, the researchers documented 3510 incident cases of stroke. Subsequent crunching of the numbers indicated that two servings of sweetened beverages per day were associated with a 22% increase in the risk of cerebral infarction, compared with consuming less than two servings per week.

The researchers cited findings from a randomized, controlled crossover trial in healthy young men that found that low to moderate consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may detrimentally affect LDL particles, fasting glucose, and C-reactive protein, a well-established marker of inflammation.

“Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has been found to increase blood glucose and insulin concentrations and has been positively associated with weight gain and the risk of developing type-2 diabetes,” ​they added. “Overweight and obesity as well as type 2 diabetes are well-established risk factors for cerebral infarction but are not clearly associated with risk of hemorrhagic stroke. It has been suggested that sugar-sweetened beverages promote weight gain by their high added-sugar content, low satiety, and incomplete compensation.”

Larsson, Akesson, and Wolk called for other larger studies to confirm their findings.

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/​jn.114.190546
“Sweetened Beverage Consumption Is Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke in Women and Men”
Authors: S.C. Larsson, A. Akesson, A. Wolk

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