A decades long study conducted by the World Health Organization has shown that people who drink 2 glasses of soda a day have a much higher chance of death, and the numbers go up if the person drinks diet sodas.
To conduct the study, the WHO interviewed 450,000 people from around Europe and followed up with them 16 years later. The people who regularly drank two sodas daily were at a much higher risk of an early death than people who didn't, and that people who drank diet sodas were at an even higher risk.
The scientists from the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon said that it would 'prudent' to cut out all sodas from a person's diet and the doctors at the European Society of Cardiology in Paris said people should 'eliminate' soft drinks from their diet.
The research, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, is the largest study to examine links between soft drink consumption and mortality. This helps validate previous studies that have suggested a causal link between the two.
In terms of specific numbers, the chance of death for regular soda drinkers by 26 percent, with 52 percent dying from cardiovascular disease. Diet soda drinkers are at even higher risk, with a 34 percent risk of early death.
Study leader Dr Neil Murphy, said: 'The striking observation in our study was that we found positive associations for both sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened soft drinks with risk of all-cause deaths.'
It's unclear exactly why diet drinkers are at even higher risk, but Dr. Murphy suggests that the chemicals in diet sodas might induce glucose intolerance and trigger higher blood insulin levels.
Additional studies are now needed to examine the long term health consequences of specific artificial sweeteners that are commonly used in soft drinks, such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium,' he said. The authors of the study wrote 'Artificially sweetened soft drinks have few or no calories; however, their long-term physiological and health implications are largely unknown.'
The take-away message from this is clear; one should work to reduce or minimize the consumption of sugar drinks. Water is best, tea and coffee are okay, but sodas are best avoided.