Study questions fruit sugar role in hypertension

Sun Jun 3, 2012 8:36pm EDT

Related Topics

(Reuters) - Sweet drinks have been linked to a slightly higher risk of developing high blood pressure, but a U.S. study finds that fruit sugar may not be the culprit as found in earlier research.

Researchers followed more than 200,000 men and women for up to 38 years and found that regularly consuming sweetened drinks, either containing sugars or artificially sweetened, was associated with a rise of about 13 percent in the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Carbonated and cola drinks were most strongly linked to a risk for hypertension, but fruit sugar, or fructose, in drinks did not stand out as a driving factor, the group reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"We don't know what causes the increased risk in artificial- or sugar-sweetened beverages," said Lisa Cohen, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

"It's hard to say that from the fructose itself you're increasing your hypertension risk."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week proposed a ban on large-size sugary sodas, the latest in a string of public health initiatives that include a campaign to cut salt in restaurant meals and packaged foods.

Earlier studies had implicated fructose as a factor related to a risk of high blood pressure, but Cohen noted that those have only taken a snapshot in time and could not determine which came first, the high blood pressure or taste for sweet drinks.

Cohen and her colleagues looked at data from three massive studies, including nearly 224,000 healthcare workers, whose diet and health were tracked for 16 to 38 years. No participants had diagnosed high blood pressure at the start of the study.

Over time, those who drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 13 percent increased risk of developing hypertension relative to those who only had a sweet drink once a month or less.

Similarly, people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened drink a day had a 14 percent increased risk of developing hypertension relative to those who had few or none.

To see if it was the fructose that was responsible, researchers also looked at people who had high levels of fructose in their diets from other sources, such as fruits.

Among people who consumed 15 percent of their calories from fructose sources other than drinks, the risk of developing hypertension was either lower or the same as people who ate very little fructose.

"You would think if fructose were the causative factor, then eating a lot of apples (for example) would also increase your risk of hypertension," Cohen told Reuters Health.

The "markedly" stronger link between carbonated sweet drinks and increased hypertension risk might be explained by the larger serving sizes associated with sodas, or some other unknown ingredient common to all of them, the researchers said - but further research is needed.

SOURCE: bit.ly/JA2f76

(Reporting from New York by Kerry Grens at Reuters Health; Editing by Elaine Lies and Ed Lane)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
SuefromSault wrote:
Bull-!!
“fruit sugar” and hi fructose corn syrup
are NOT the same thing! This is just another attempt on the
part of the corn industry to pull a fast one!

If you are allergic to corn (or the junk that is used to convert
corn starch to hi fructose corn syrup) it makes you FAT.

Jun 04, 2012 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Right on Sue… you beat me to it. HFC is the real culprit here, but the food industry pays a few measly bucks to captivate government with bribes and lobbyists.

Our bodies were not designed to metabolize the processed junk and corn syrup … which is in just about everything you eat that isn’t fresh. To compare an apple to soft drinks is ludicrous.

Too much of any sugar hurts your liver and HFC is as Sue says, is just going to be turned to fat and over tax your whole system to metabolize it. let’s get real and find the REAL culprits… and it isn’t fruits…

Jun 04, 2012 1:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mbgodofwar wrote:
Well, when you’re the biggest lobby and receiving the biggest subsidies (over $3.5 billion in 2010) then you can afford to make up whatever bogus claim.

Jun 05, 2012 1:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.