Cup of death

I am so excited to tell you about this study I can hardly type fast enough.

Not because the results are good. But because maybe, just maybe, they will finally prompt the legislation that this country so desperately needs.

Turns out, tipping back large quantities of sugary beverages is linked to higher body mass index (BMI). And, of course, higher death rates from a number of obesity-related health perils–including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

That’s the conclusion of a recent, large international study. And a closer look at the details reveals just how serious the problem really is.

Researchers calculated a total of 132,000 deaths from diabetes, 44,000 deaths from heart disease, and 6,000 deaths from cancer. All in 2010 alone. And all attributed to drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fruit juice, or sports beverages.

Let me do the math for you. That’s over 180,000 deaths in a single year… just from drinking sugary beverages.

Naturally, the study’s authors reacted just the way I would expect. According to one of them (and I quote): “It is a [surprisingly] large number of deaths–tens of thousands of deaths–that are being caused by consuming sugary beverages.”

Surprising?? Really??? Has this doctor’s head been buried in the sand for the past decade?! Anyone who’s been paying attention has known about this threat for years. And now we have the hard figures to back us up.

These statistics illustrate in a very real way what I have been saying for so long. And it also validates what people like Mayor Bloomberg in NYC have been trying to do for the people in this country. Despite a whole lot of pushback.

Let’s just face it. Soda kills.

Obviously, sugar’s death toll doesn’t make me happy. But there is a silver lining here.

If this study doesn’t spur clinicians to encourage patients to drink fewer sugary beverages, I don’t know what will. And public policy? Well, it’s got to change at this point.

If something else so simple was shown to save lives, there would be so much regulation in the works, it would make your head spin.

It’s high time we looked at the health risks of soda the way we look at alcohol-related deaths and cigarette smoking. Those two vices are regulated to hell and back–for very good reason.

Meanwhile, sugar flows freely–and it’s killing us, one sip at a time. I simply don’t know how big of a sea change we’ll need to get public opinion behind a huge policy upheaval.

But if everyone looked long and hard at this study’s findings, it would be a good start.

The researchers used data from a large pool of cohort studies. They used it to identify how sugary drink consumption affected BMI. As I mentioned earlier, they also looked at how this affected consequent disease status.

But they didn’t just track diabetes and heart disease rates. They also followed rates of seven obesity-related cancers–including breast, uterine, esophageal, gallbladder, colorectal, kidney, and pancreatic cancer.

Yes, that’s seven cancers–all linked to obesity.

So, again I ask–when are we going to take this seriously?

More than three quarters of sugar-related deaths were in low- and middle-income countries. But while comparatively wealthy Americans might use this as an excuse to ignore the statistics, that would be a dangerous mistake.
The numbers reveal some very illuminating trends that everyone should care about.

Per capita, Mexico ranks among the highest rates of sweetened beverage consumption in the world. And not surprisingly, they also had the greatest number of related deaths. (Roughly 318 per million adults.)

Meanwhile, Japan boasts some of the lowest soda drinking rates–and their related death rate reflected that. This country suffered only 10 deaths linked to sweetened beverages for every million adults.

Some other numbers of note:

  • Latin American and Caribbean countries suffered 38,000 diabetes deaths.
  • Eastern- and Central-Eurasian countries suffered 11,000 deaths from heart disease.
  • The United States suffered 25,000 deaths from sweetened drinks. (Hardly a small number, I think you’ll agree.)

So what do I want you to do with this information?

For starters, learn to do what I do and simply drink water as your main beverage. We need to stop the wave of destruction that’s been crashing down on the entire world for decades now.

And boycotting soda, juice, and all that other junk that passes for a drink these days is the first and most necessary step.

Remember… the revolution against sugar starts with you. And together, this is a fight that I know we can win.

Sugary Drinks May Explain 180,000 Deaths Worldwide Each Year. Medscape. Mar 20, 2013.