12 January - 20 June 2016

Sweetened beverages and stroke risk

23 Apr 14

A recent study indicates that consumption of two servings of sweetened beverages a day may increase the risk of cerebral infarction (a type of ischemic stroke) by 22%, compared to those who consume less than two servings a week.

The study, by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and published in the Journal of Nutrition, included data from nearly 70,000 participants, male and female. All subjects were between 45 and 83 years of age, and did not suffer from any of the following: cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes. Over the course of a decade, the participants' consumption of sweetened beverages, including both sugary drinks and those containing artificial sweeteners, was recorded using food-frequency questionnaires.

Any stroke cases in the cohort during the study period were classified as one of the following: cerebral infarction, intracerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage or unspecified stroke. Analysis of the data showed a 19% and 22% increased risk of total stroke and cerebral infarction respectively, when comparing those who consumed ≥2 sweetened beverage servings per day to those who consumed 0.1 - 0.5 servings per day.

Previous research has found links between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and increased glucose and insulin in the blood, which has in turn been linked to weight gain and type-2 diabetes - both well-known risk factors for cerebral infarction. No clear links have been made with risk of hemorrhagic stroke, however.

Speaking to FoodNavigator, Professor Marion Nestle (who was not connected with the study) noted that the servings used in the study could equate to a standard 8oz soft drink, with the equivalent of two such drinks a day being associated with the 22% increase in cerebral infarction risk. Professor Nestle also noted the significance of the study in that it demonstrated clear dose dependence in the relationship between stroke risk and sweetened beverage consumption.

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