A new study that looked at data from hundreds of thousands of individuals has linked higher consumption of soft drinks — both, artificially- and sugar-sweetened drinks — with greater risk of premature death.

The finding reinforces results from previous studies that have shown most soft drinks pose a health risk. The new research adds that just two glasses of soft drinks per day may raise early death risk.

Because the findings are from an observational study, they do not prove that regular soft drink consumption drives early death. However, the research team concludes that the results endorse health initiatives to reduce public consumption of such beverages.

The international group behind the new study analyzed data on 451,743 adults from 10 European countries that were gathered between 1992 and 2000.

The average age of the participants was 51 years old, and 71 percent were female; none of them had heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or stroke at the outset of the trial.

Of the participants taking part in the analysis, 41,693 died during a follow-up that averaged 16.4 years and ranged from 11.1 years in Greece to 19.2 years in France. The researchers compared deaths during the follow-up in those who said that they drank soft drinks every day with those who said that they consumed hardly any — that is fewer than one glass per month.

Soft drink consumption included drinking of fizzy soft drinks such as cola and lemonade; isotonic or energy drinks; diet and low-calorie soft fizzy drinks; and diluted syrups, such as fruit cordial or squash. Soft drink consumption did not include fruit juice.

Their analysis revealed that consuming two or more glasses per day of total, artificially- or sugar-sweetened soft drinks was linked to a higher risk of death from all causes in comparison to consuming hardly any soft drinks. The team observed the link in both males and females.

The researchers were able to rule out any influence from factors such as physical activity, body mass index (BMI), education, smoking, and diet. A further analysis also revealed that in comparison to consuming hardly any, drinking two or more glasses per day of artificially-sweetened soft drinks was tied to a higher risk of circulatory diseases. While, consuming two or more glasses of sugar-sweetened soft drinks was linked to a higher risk of death from digestive diseases.

These results seem to suggest that high soft drink consumption may be a marker of overall unhealthful diet.

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