The study, Soft drink intake in relation to incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and stroke subtypes in Japanese men and women, examined the association between soft drink intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease in a Japanese population.
It established a link between soft drink consumption and a higher risk of ischemic stroke among women.
Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. The underlying condition for this type of obstruction is the development of fatty deposits lining the vessel walls.
According to the American Stroke Association, ischemic strokes account for around 87% of all cases.
Ischemic stroke link
The 18 year study involved nearly 40,000 Japanese men and women aged between the ages of 40 and 59.
The 39,786 participant answered a self-administered food frequency questionnaire first in 1990, then in 1995 and 2000.
On the back of the questionnaire, the participants were split into four groups – those who rarely drank soft drinks, those who drank one to two drinks a week, those who had three to four a week, and those who drank soft drink nearly every day.
The researchers then tracked how many of the participants developed heart disease or had a stroke from the between 1990 and the end of the study in 2008.
“During 18 years of follow-up, we ascertained 453 incidents cases of ischemic heart disease (IHD) and 1922 cases of stroke, including 859 hemorrhagic and 1047 ischemic strokes. Soft drink intake was positively associated with risk of total stroke and more specifically ischemic stroke for women,” said the study.
The report added, however, that no link was established between soft drink intake and an increased risk of ischemic heart disease or hemorrhagic strokes in men or women.
The research, which was conducted by researchers at Osaka University and published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), has been slammed by the American Beverage Association (ABA).
The ABA, which represents non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers in the US, claims that the Japanese study does nothing to educate the public on the real causes of heart disease.
“This study does nothing to educate people about the real causes of heart disease or hear health issues. It only shows that we already know to be among the risk factors for heart disease: ethnicity and age. There is nothing unique about soft drinks when it comes to heart disease, stroke or any other adverse health outcomes.”
The ABA also cited World Heart Foundation research, which found that people with African or Asian ancestry are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than other racial groups.
“Yet the authors looked at an exclusively Asian population,” said the ABA statement.