crushed Sprite canIn news that should surprise exactly nobody, yet another large study has shown a relationship between soft drink consumption and death risk.

Published earlier this month in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study analyzed data from more than 450,000 European adults whose health habits were followed for 11 years or more. Compared with those who drank 1 soft drink or less per month, those who drank 2 or more servings a day were found to be at greater risk of early death.

When the researchers analyzed their data, accounting for factors that could increase the risk of death, such as body mass index and smoking, they found that participants who consumed two or more glasses of soft drinks per day were 17% more likely to die early compared to those who drank less than a single serving of soft drinks per month.

There was one surprising detail, though: It didn’t matter if the drinks were sugar-sweetened or relied on artificial sweeteners. Both had a negative impact.

In fact, the jump in risk of early death was even greater for those who stuck with diet drinks. While those who regularly had sugary drinks were 8% more likely to die early compared with those who drank little or none, regular consumers of diet drinks were 26% more likely to die early compared with those who steered clear of the stuff.

As Dr. Bicuspid reported,

Consuming sugary drinks was also linked to death from several diseases, including circulatory diseases, digestive diseases, and Parkinson’s disease. However, no association was found for deaths associated with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, participants with a healthy body mass index (BMI) who consumed sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks had a higher risk of death. The researchers suggested that the associations between sugary drink consumption and mortality may be independent of any role that body fat may play.

Of course and as ever, correlation doesn’t equal causation. This type of study can’t tell us a thing about causes. It can only show that a relationship exists.

It also doesn’t account for many other factors that might explain the relationship. For instance, it’s quite possible that soft drink consumption is a proxy for a bad diet, heavy in hyper-processed products, low in nutrient-dense whole foods.

“There are only so many things you can account for when it comes to different types of factors,” [Dr. Bruce Y.] Lee [of Johns Hopkins University] said. “These are very complex systems.”

But one thing IS clear: Soft drinks certainly don’t help.


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