Drinking Soda and Artificially Sweetened Beverages Increase Risk of Serious Heart Condition, Study Says

Drinking Soda and Artificially Sweetened Beverages Increase Risk of Serious Heart Condition, Study Says

A recent study published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology has highlighted a concerning association between the consumption of diet soda and an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation. The research, which analyzed data from approximately 202,000 individuals in the United Kingdom aged between 37 and 73, found that those who consumed more than two liters of artificially sweetened drinks per week faced a 20% higher likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation. This volume equates to approximately six standard 330ml cans of such beverages.

Furthermore, the study revealed that consuming other beverages containing added sugars also posed a risk, albeit to a lesser extent, with a 10% increase in the likelihood of atrial fibrillation. Conversely, individuals who drank unsweetened juices, including orange juice, experienced an 8% reduction in their risk of developing the condition.

Atrial fibrillation, characterized by irregular heartbeats, is a serious cardiac condition associated with symptoms such as lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Notably, it is also recognized as a leading cause of stroke in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Despite the study’s findings, lead author Dr. Ningjian Wang from the Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China emphasized the complexity of dietary habits and cautioned against definitive conclusions regarding the comparative health risks of different beverages. Nevertheless, Dr. Wang advised reducing or avoiding artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened beverages whenever possible, emphasizing the potential health risks associated with their consumption.

Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University, noted that this study is the first to report an association between no- and low-calorie sweeteners, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. However, she stressed the need for further research to confirm these findings and fully comprehend their implications for heart disease and other health conditions. In the interim, she recommended limiting or avoiding no- and low-calorie sweetened beverages and emphasized water as the preferable choice for hydration.