Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Scary Risk of Drinking Colas -- Even Diet


The good news: Drinking coffee--even a lot of it every day--will not increase your risk of hypertension. The bad news: Cola drinks will.

A new study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., concludes there is a significant link between high blood pressure in women and the consumption of sugared or diet cola drinks. This was a surprising discovery even to the researchers since colas do not contain any ingredients known to cause hypertension.

The study: Led by Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, M.D., the team followed 155,594 women for 12 years, all of whom participated in the Nurses' Health Studies I and II. While all the women had normal blood pressure when the studies began in the early 1990s, 33,000 developed hypertension during the follow-up years.

The results: Caffeine intake was not directly linked to incident hypertension. When the team dug down further and analyzed the beverages the women consumed, they concluded habitual coffee drinking was not linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, but sugared and diet colas had a significant link.

Is it the caffeine in the colas that causes the high blood pressure? The researchers think not. "We speculate that it is not caffeine but perhaps some other compound contained in soda-type soft drinks that may be responsible for the increased risk in hypertension," the wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "If these associations are causal, they may have considerable impact on public health."

Approximately 50 million people in the United States have hypertension, and the prevalence is increasing. Hypertension is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke and congestive heart failure.

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