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Sweet Drinks Linked to Heart Disease

By K.S. Mitchell
Posted On Apr 13, 2012

The American Heart Association continues to zero in on the relationship between calories and heart attacks. Cee Lo Green beware!

By J.P. Faber

April 12, 2012 (New You Media) — The 7-Up commercial begins with singer-songwriter Cee Lo Green as a baby in his crib, listening to the fizzy sound made by a freshly opened can. Flash forward to Cee Lo as a young teen, thrilled by the same sound. Flash forward to Cee Lo today, opening and guzzling a 7-Up.

The implication is that somehow that pop-and-fizz sound helped make Cee Lo a famous rapper-pop star. More likely, the sugar in the drink helped make him the diabetes-prone overweight person he is today. What was not clear until recently is that his beverage of choice also makes him more prone to heart disease.

In a recent study quietly ignored by the sugar-drink industry, the American Heart Association reported that men who drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day had a 20 percent higher risk of heart disease than men who didn’t drink any sugary drinks.

The report, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, is one of several emerging from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which monitored the health and habits of 42,883 men. Even after ruling out other risk factors, including smoking, lack of exercise, alcohol use and family histories of heart disease, the habit of drinking a sweetened drink daily led to an increased risk. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the United States.

“This study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health,” said Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., study lead author and professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass.

Doctors who have read the report say that it is not the sugary drink, per se, which is the culprit in heart disease, but any sort of carbohydrate that leads to weight gain.

“Obesity is the number one leading cause of heat attack, stroke and diabetes,” says Meyer Eisenstein, a Chicago-based MD who focuses on the treatment of obesity. “This study is one more drop of evidence that refined carbohydrates [via obesity] lead to cardiovascular disease.” The source of the carbs, he says, is irrelevant.
“I don’t believe it makes any difference if you drink 12 ounces of cola, or the equivalent number of calories in white bread…. What the AHA is approaching is the fact that our society consumes too many carbohydrates, period. It is the low-carbohydrate lifestyle that prevents heart attacks, not avoiding sugar drinks.”

The AHA, for its part, seems to be moving solidly to that conclusion.

“The AHA has always been an advocate for dietary discretion for risk factor modification,” says Jackie See, MD, a California cardiologist who is on the Clinical Cardiology Council of the AHA. “Fat reduction in the diet was emphasized until a few years ago, and now sugar reduction is being emphasized.”

The good news from the study is that moderate intake of sugary drinks – twice weekly or less – does not statistically increase the risk for heart disease. The same goes for drinking artificially sweetened beverages. So Cee Lo, switch to diet 7-Up!