Roundup: Soda Habit and Health Risks; Cancer vs. Heart Disease; and Weight-Loss Surgery Update

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September 6, 2019


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Just Two Soft Drinks a Day Could Increase Risk of Early Death, New Research Finds

Researchers have found that drinking two or more soft drinks per day could increase your risk of an early death. And it doesn’t matter which type of soda you drink — whether they’re sweetened with sugar or “diet” sodas with artificial ingredients.

They found that two sodas a day increased the risk of dying over about 16 years, compared to people who drank less than one soda a month. Researchers with the International Agency for Research on Cancer looked at data from nearly 452,000 people from 10 European countries involved in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, also concluded that people who drank more than two sugar-sweetened soft drinks a day had higher rates of death from digestive diseases. A digestive disease occurs in the digestive tract. Conditions may range from mild (lactose intolerance) to serious (irritable bowel syndrome and some cancers). However, the study did not find an association between soft drink consumption and overall cancer mortality.

Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks has previously been linked to elevated risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The study’s authors concluded that “further studies are needed to investigate the possible adverse health effects of artificial sweeteners.” They added that their findings call for public health campaigns aimed at reducing the consumption of soft drinks.

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Cancer Overtakes Heart Disease as No. 1 Cause of Death in Many Nations

Cardiovascular disease still ranks as the No. 1 cause of death around the world. But new research, published in the journal The Lancet, found that deaths from cancer are now more common than those from heart disease in some high-income and middle-income countries, among adults ages 35 to 70.

The researchers say the findings are likely due to improved prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in wealthy nations. However, strategies to prevent and treat cancers have yet to lead to large reductions in most cancers across the world. In the U.S., heart disease is still the leading cause of death. The U.S. was not included in the new study. Among the countries included were: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

The study analyzed data on deaths and diseases among 162,534 adults across five continents. The data was taken from a project called the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology, or PURE,study, which ran from 2005 to 2016. It involved individuals aged 35–70 years who had been enrolled from 21 countries across five continents.

“As cardiovascular disease decreases in many countries, mortality from cancer will probably become the leading cause of death,” the study notes. “The high mortality in poorer countries is not related to risk factors, but it might be related to poorer access to health care.”

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Weight-loss Surgery Reduces Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke in Diabetics, Study Says

Researcher examined health records over eight years of 13,722 obese patients with type 2 diabetes and other high-risk health issues. They found that those who had bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, were 39 percent less likely to suffer a heart- or stroke-related event, compared to those who had standard medical care, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The bariatric surgery patients were also 41 percent less likely to die prematurely from any cause.

The findings also confirm what other studies have found over more than two decades — that bariatric surgery can help patients overcome diabetes and other serious chronic conditions, or help them reduce or eliminate the need for medications.

More than 200,000 Americans undergo bariatric surgery every year. A good candidate for bariatric surgery includes someone who has tried and failed medically supervised weight-loss programs to treat their obesity.

Over the past two decades, there have been significant advances in bariatric surgeries, especially with the use of robotic technology to facilitate minimally invasive procedures. But one aspect that has not changed much is the need for patients to reduce calorie intake and consume healthier, smaller meals.

Bariatric surgery can reduce the size of the stomach by up to 70 percent. The sacrifice can be considerable, but the result can be very rewarding. Significant weight can be reduced to improve symptoms of many chronic illnesses, such as coronary heart disease and diabetes.

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