Soda drinkers at higher risk for stroke

A study conducted within the last year found that drinking soda — diet or regular — increased a person’s chances of stroke. It also found that drinking coffee instead of soda cut the risk of stroke.

Could this really be true?

The study, mentioned in AARP The Magazine, was conducted by scientists at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute and Harvard University. The scientists looked at the diet and health status of 84,085 women who were enrolled in a long-running Nurses’ Health Study. It also involved 43,371 men who were involved in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Taken into account were numerous risk factors for stroke, which include hypertension, obesity, smoking and family history of heart disease.

The findings showed that adults who drank one soda or more a day were on average 16 percent more likely to suffer a stroke, and that women in this group were slightly more at risk than men. However, drinking coffee instead of soda seemed to cut stroke risk by nearly 10 percent.

The lead author of the study speculated that additives in soda assumed to be safe may not be. He noted that there had been some suggestion that caramel coloring — found in sodas — could lead to inflammation, which could trigger some types of diseases.

Also mentioned by the researchers was the incredible amount of sugar-sweetened sodas consumed by the population. According to their count it equals 45 gallons of soda per person per year.

The average American drinks massive amounts of sugary beverages, Bernstein says, with sugar-sweetened sodas accounting for most of it. “The numbers are staggering — upwards of 45 gallons per person per year,” he says. “That’s nearly a gallon per week per person.”

Part of the reason that coffee might be beneficial is that it contains chlorogenic acids, lignans and magnesium, which act as antioxidants and also help to regulate blood sugar.

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