THE BLOG
04/15/2014 04:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2014

Sugary Drinks May Increase Stroke Risk

A new study from researchers at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden looked at whether sugary drinks increase the risk of a stroke. For those not familiar with the institute, Karolinska is currently ranked among the top 10 medical universities in world.

Previous studies have shown that consumption of sugary beverages increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease by about 20 percent. Given the close relationship between diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the researchers hypothesized that sugary drinks would increase stroke risk. They were right.

Nearly 70,000 healthy Swedish men and women were followed for over 10 years. Those who drank two servings of sugary drinks a day had a 20 percent increase in risk of suffering a stroke.

The study was published on April 9, 2014 the same day that the Health Committee of the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 1000, the Soda Warning Label Bill by a vote of 5-2.

I was present at the Health Committee hearing and heard the testimony of Mr. Bob Ackermann of the California and Nevada Soft Drink Association and Ms. Lisa Katic, a registered dietician testifying on behalf of the soft drink association. They both maintained that sugary drinks had no special link to chronic diseases despite overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary. Now we need to add stroke to the list of diseases linked to sugary beverage consumption.

That list now includes: Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, fatty liver disease, cancer, obesity, and deaths from heart disease.

If an infectious agent was responsible for such a widespread national epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control would be working overtime on a vaccine.

We need no new research, no new vaccines, nor quarantines to control this epidemic. We simply need to drastically reduce the amount of sugar in our diets, and the very worst culprit is the liquid sugar found in sodas and other sugary beverages.

The science is slowly making its way into the mainstream, and soda sales are beginning to fall. Big Soda is responding by increasing their misleading advertising.

Health activists, and all people who care about their own personal health and that of their families, have a vital role to play in curbing this epidemic of chronic illness related to sugar consumption.

Here are some simple things we all can do:

  • Boycott soda and all other sugary drinks and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.
  • Substitute water, milk and spa water at community gatherings instead of sugary drinks.
  • Ask your local schools, hospitals and medical centers to remove sugary drinks if they have not already done so.
  • Support the Soda Tax movement and ask your municipal, county and state legislators to introduce a Soda Tax with the revenue going to programs to support nutrition and physical activity for children.
  • Support the California Soda Warning Label Bill and ask your state legislators to do the same.
  • Ask your pension fund to divest from soda companies.

As Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, reminded us all at the California Senate Health Committee hearing:

"People know that drinking a soda is not as healthy as eating broccoli. They don't know that these products are actually making them and their families sick."

Protect yourself and your family from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, hypertension, fatty liver disease, and obesity.