(CN) – Long since linked to higher mortality rates, people who consume two or more glasses of sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks a day are at a higher risk of dying from circulatory or digestive diseases, according to new research released Tuesday.
The largest study of its kind, released in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, examined the health of more than 450,000 people in 10 European countries over an average period of 16 years to determine what effects soft drinks might have.
Over the course of the study, scientists recorded the deaths of 41,693 study participants and found a positive association between increased soft drink consumption and death from disease. The research found a higher rate of mortality among diet soda drinkers with circulatory diseases such as heart attacks or strokes.
“Drinking two or more glasses per day (compared with less than one glass per month) of total soft drinks, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks was associated with higher risk of death from all causes during an average follow-up of 16 years in which 41,693 deaths occurred,” the study states.
Meanwhile, people who drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks were more likely to die of digestive diseases.
“Hyperglycemia resulting from consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks may alter gut-barrier function and increase the risk of enteric function,” the study states. “Furthermore, fructose, a sugar commonly used in soft drinks, promotes liver lipogenesis, which can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and lower insulin sensitivity.”
Scientists also discovered for the first time a positive association between Parkinson’s disease mortality and increased soft drink consumption, both artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened. But the researchers contend more study is required on the subject before establishing a solid link between the two.
The scientists also observed no link between soft drink consumption and overall cancer deaths. While the study did find a “positive association between total soft drink consumption and risk of colorectal cancer mortality,” researchers said they could not determine whether sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened soft drinks were the main contributor.
Researchers say the results of the study are “supportive of ongoing public health campaigns aimed at reducing the consumption of soft drinks.”