Sugary drinks associated with higher blood pressure
29 March 2011
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with higher blood pressure, according to a study of over 2,500 people reported in the first week of March in the journal Hypertension.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. Someone with a blood pressure level in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) of 135 over 85 is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75.
The new study, by researchers in the School of Public Health, shows that for every extra can of sugary drink consumed per day, participants on average had a higher systolic blood pressure by 1.6 mmHg and a higher diastolic blood pressure by 0.8 mmHg. This difference was statistically significant even after adjusting for factors such as weight and height.
The study did not examine the mechanism that might link sugary drinks with blood pressure. However, the researchers suggest that raised uric acid, which has been linked to sugarsweetened beverage consumption, might raise blood pressure by reducing the levels of nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes the lining of the blood vessels.
The association between sugary drinks and higher blood pressure was especially strong in people who consumed a lot of salt as well as sugar. Diet drinks were linked with lower blood pressure levels in some analyses, but the association was not consistent or strong.
Senior author of the study, Professor Paul Elliott (Public Health), said: “It’s widely known that if you have too much salt in your diet, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure. The results of this study suggest that people should be careful about how much sugar they consume as well.”
— Sam Wong, Communications and Development