'Light' sodas may hike diabetes risk: study (Update)


Artificially sweetened sodas have been linked to a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes for women than sodas sweetened with ordinary sugar, a French study unveiled on Thursday found.

"Contrary to conventional thinking, the risk of diabetes is higher with 'light' beverages compared with 'regular' sweetened drinks," the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) said.

The evidence comes from a wide-scale, long-term study, it said in a press release.

More than 66,000 French women volunteers were quizzed about their dietary habits and their health was then monitored over 14 years from 1993 to 2007.

The women were middle-aged or older when they joined the study—born between 1925 and 1950.

Sugar-sweetened sodas have previously been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, but less is known about their artificially sweetened counterparts—often promoted as a healthier substitute.

Researchers led by Inserm's Francoise Clavel-Chapelon and Guy Fagherazzi dug into the data mine to look at the prevalence of diabetes among women who drank either type of soda, and those who drank only unsweetened fruit juice.

Compared with juice-drinkers, women who drank both types of soda had a higher incidence of diabetes.

The increased risk was about a third for those who drank up to 359 millilitres (12 US ounces) of soda per week, and more than double among those who drank up to 603 ml (20 ounces) per week.

Drinkers of light sodas had an even higher risk of diabetes compared to those who drank regular ones: 15 percent higher for consumption of 500 ml (16.9 ounces) per week, and 59 percent higher for consumption of 1.5 litres (50 ounces) per week, Inserm said.

The study found no increase in diabetes among women who drank only 100-percent fruit juice, compared with non-consumers.

The authors noted that women who drank "light" sodas tended to drink more of it—2.8 glasses a week on average compared to 1.6 glasses among women on "regular" sodas.

The findings are published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Its authors admitted the study had limitations.

"Information on beverage consumption was not updated during the follow-up, and dietary habits may have changed over time," the paper said.

"We cannot rule out that factors other than ASB (artificially sweetened beverages)... are responsible for the association with diabetes."

The study took account of the women's age and corpulence, but did not keep close track of their eating habits during the study period.

The authors also pointed out that obese people were more likely than thin ones to drink artificially sweetened drinks in the first place.

Fagherazzi told journalists on Thursday the evidence was not sufficient "to advise people to stop consumption of one or the other type of drink"—urging further trials to prove a causal link.

The paper noted previous research which had showed that aspartame—for long the most used artificial sweetener—has a similar effect on blood glucose and insulin levels as the sucrose used in regular sweeteners.

According to the World Health Organisation, 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, a chronic disease which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough glucose-controlling insulin, or when the body cannot efficiently use it.

Type 2 diabetes, other than Type 1 which starts in childhood and requires insulin treatment, often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity.

Over time, the disease can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves—increasing the risk of heart disease, kidney failure, stroke and blindness.

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(c) 2013 AFP

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User comments

Feb 07, 2013
The pathetic worry warts who "mistakenly" branded saccharine as a carcinogen have blood on their hands, as do all enemies of objectivity who cling to scare-factor BS as if science really can offer them righteous religious ecstasy.

Feb 07, 2013
Does really aspartame change blood sugar levels? I have seen several studies saying *it does not*. I beleive the food and snack consumption along with the beverages is the main problem.

Feb 07, 2013
This is a meaningless study.

* The study did not differentiate between sucrose sweetened sodas and sodas sweetened with corn syrup.

* The study did not differentiate between the types of artificial sweeteners in the artificially sweetened sodas.

Feb 07, 2013
@dogbert probably because it would affect their habits too much to gather that data.

Feb 07, 2013
"We cannot rule out that factors other than ASB (artificially sweetened beverages)... are responsible for the association with diabetes."

This one statement made me throw everything the entire article said into the "trash journalism" folder in my brain.

Feb 07, 2013
American food is shit

Feb 07, 2013

These were apparently French women, not Americans.

Feb 07, 2013
"However, in 2000, the warning labels were removed because scientists learned that rodents, unlike humans, have a unique combination of high pH, high calcium phosphate, and high protein levels in their urine.[19][20] One or more of the proteins that are more prevalent in male rats combine with calcium phosphate and saccharin to produce microcrystals that damage the lining of the bladder. Over time, the rat's bladder responds to this damage by over-producing cells to repair the damage, which leads to tumor formation. As this does not occur in humans, there is no elevated bladder cancer risk." - Wikipedia - Saccharin

Feb 11, 2013

'Does really aspartame change blood sugar levels? I have seen several studies saying *it does not*. I beleive the food and snack consumption along with the beverages is the main problem'

Makes sense, as people are more likely to consume snacks along with sodas.

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