Not So Sweet
Just one can of soft drink a day increases the risk of heart attack - and the more sugar we consume the greater the health risk, says Peter Dingle PhD
Just one can of soft drink or the equivalent in sugar or sugary food produces immediate toxic effects on the body and contributes to major chronic illnesses 20-30 years down the line.
It is equivalent to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. The major areas of health concern with high sugar consumption include certain cancers, cardiovascular disease such as stroke, heart attack, obesity and type 2 diabetes, dental caries, bone fractures and osteoporosis, kidney stones and more.
While the particular dynamics of the illnesses may be different to cigarette consumption, the long term health costs to individuals and the economy are much the same.
However, because of space limitations I have just focused here on sugar and cardiovascular disease - the number one killer in Australia.
An overwhelming body of evidence points to the detrimental role of sugar - mostly sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup - along with other refined carbohydrates in weight gain and the development of diabetes and all forms of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Knowledge of the link between cardiovascular disease and sugar consumption dates from the 1960s and 1970s, when Yudkin and colleagues discovered an association between increased sugar consumption and increased cardiovascular disease incidence in both national and international comparisons (1).
Astonishingly, no clear threshold exists for the multitude of adverse effects of sugar intake; in general the association seems to be roughly linear, which means the more you take in, the more harm it does to your body and mind. Diets high in added sugar raise heart disease risk: just one soft drink a day raises heart attack risk.
A major analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that most adults in the US consumed 10% or more of calories from added sugar (71.4%); approximately 10% consumed 25% or more. Participants who consumed 10% to 25% had a 30% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, while those consuming 25% or more calories from added sugar increased their risk of CVD mortality by 275% (2).
A five year study of males aged 40 to 64 years found that chronic heart disease mortality rate doubled in individuals with high blood sugar; the increase was independent of age and blood pressure (3).
Results from the Nurses’ Health Study found that women whose diets consisted of a high glycaemic load (high blood glucose from sweets or highly processed starch) had an increased chronic heart disease risk, with those in the highest consumption group showing a two fold increase in CHD risk throughout the 10 year follow-up (4).
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