New Finding: Sugary Drinks Kill

OK.  So we know they're bad for us, NYC's Bloomberg's tried to put an end to them.  But did you know they can kill us?

A Harvard study has just found that 180,000 people a year die worldwide, and 25,000 in the U.S., from sugary drinks.

"We know that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity, and that a large number of deaths are caused by obesity-related diseases. But until now, nobody had really put these pieces together," said Gitanjali Singh, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study presented today at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in New Orleans, Bay News 9 reports.

The study adds to "mounting evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages, loaded with calories that carry little nutritional value, are a public health hazard," the story notes.

You may want to argue the facts a little "but the team tied sugar-sweetened beverages to 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 deaths from cancer in 2010."

The American Beverage Association is, of course, criticizing the findings, saying  "it's more about sensationalism than science," according to Bay News 9.

And experts indeed are cautioning that "the study found only an association, and cannot prove that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption caused these deaths. Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are often just part of a bad diet that contributes to poor health," Rachel Rettner writes at livescience.com.

So, should the government intervene?  These illnesses add up to millions of dollars for the healthcare system.  But I'm still not sure it's been definitively proved that these illnesses -- unless you're talking about obesity or any of the diseases it contributes to, like diabetes -- can be linked to sugary sodas.

I'm a breast cancer survivor and I haven't had a soda that isn't diet in years.  Of course, that raises all kinds of other problems! 

According to Rettner, of the 15 most populated countries, "Mexico had the highest rate of death linked to the beverages at 318 yearly deaths per million adults, and Japan had the lowest at 10 yearly deaths per million adults."

Again, it's obesity that's at the heart of this, because if you drink a lot of sugary soda, along with other foods, you're going to get fat.  I heard somewhere once that drinking just one can of Coke a day for a year makes you gain 15 pounds. And obesity, as we all know, is epidemic in this country.  So if you can kick the habit of sugary sodas, even just a couple days a week, you'll be doing your heart -- and your health -- a whole lot of good.

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