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High consumption of soft drinks linked to increased risk of death - study

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By Jemma Crew, PA Health and Science Correspondent

Consumption of two or more soft drinks daily is linked to an increased risk of death of up to 26%, a study has suggested.

Drinking two or more glasses of soft drinks, carbonated and isotonic drinks, and diluted syrups a day creates a higher risk of dying from all causes, according to the Europe-wide research.

The study covered 451,743 adults from 10 European countries who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) survey.

These include the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

Participants were asked how often they drank "low calorie or diet fizzy soft drinks," "fizzy soft drinks, eg cola, lemonade," and "fruit squash or cordial", with each glass roughly approximate to 250ml.

Of these participants, 41,693 deaths were recorded when they were followed up an average of 16 years later.

The researchers found that those who reported drinking two or more glasses a day of soft drinks, carbonated and isotonic drinks, and diluted syrups had a 17% increased risk of all-cause mortality compared with those who drank less than one glass a month.

When the category was narrowed down, those who drank more than two glasses of artificially sweetened soft drinks had a 26% increased risk of death, while the risk increased 8% for those drinking the same quantity of sugary drinks.

The study authors said their findings support public health initiatives to limit soft drink consumption, but that more research is needed to understand the possible adverse health effects of artificial sweeteners.

They are also calling for further research into the link between soft drink consumption and Parkinson's disease, as they believe theirs is the first study to do so.

They wrote: "The positive association between soft drink consumption and mortality was evident for both men and women."

"Only artificially sweetened, and not sugar sweetened, soft drinks were associated with deaths from circulatory diseases, whereas for digestive disease deaths, only sugar-sweetened soft drinks were associated with higher risk."

They added: "Overall, to our knowledge, this current study was the largest to date to investigate the associations between soft drink consumption and mortality outcomes as well as the first comprehensive European-based analysis."

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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