How to buy diabetes and heart disease in a bottle

September 18, 2007
Volume 04    |   Issue 38

It doesn?t matter if you take it with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Either way, drinking one or more per day increases your risk for metabolic syndrome - or pre-diabetes - by nearly 50%. And now we?re finding that just 12 ounces a day can put you at a greater risk for heart disease.

I?m talking about soft drinks. These beverages are so popular, they accompany most fast foods. And they?ve become accepted drinks at all meals. They?re drunk instead of water with lunch and dinner. And in some parts of the country, people even drink them instead of a morning cup of coffee.

A recent study followed more than 6,000 middle-aged men and women for four years. All of them started out without any metabolic problems. Those who drank one or more soft drinks a day had the highest risk. They had a 48% higher prevalence of becoming pre-diabetic than participants who drank less than one a day.

The researchers don?t know why soft drinks increase the risk for pre-diabetes, since diet drinks were as much of a problem as those made with sugar. One possibility is the brown caramel used in colas. This coloring has been linked to inflammation and tissue damage. And inflammation is an underlying cause of metabolic syndrome.

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Some believe that by drinking sweet drinks throughout the day it encourages a sweet tooth. And that, in turn, creates a craving for more foods high in refined sugars and starches.

The lead author of this study also conducted another study that found more heart disease among people who drank colas. Why? Because of the drinks? high phosphorous (phosphoric acid) content. Phosphorous can interfere with the body?s production of vitamin D. This lack of vitamin D can decrease heart function and increase calcification in the heart?s arteries. Excessive phosphorous can also lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

If you?ve been drinking soft drinks every day, especially colas, today would be a good day to stop. You can find thirst-quenching drinks made entirely from fruit juices and sparkling water in all health food stores and many supermarkets. Or make your own. Better yet, drink more water.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


Dhingra, R, MD, et al, "Soft drink consumption and risk of developing cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in middle-aged adults in the community," Circulation, July 25, 2007.

Dhingra, R, et al, "Relations of serum phosphorus and calcium levels to the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the community," Arch Intern Med 2007.

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