cardiovascular disease

  1. Soda scare: Sugary drinks linked to new heart risk

    Any time I use the words "soda" and "study" in the same sentence, it's never good news for soda. I can't recall a single study that shows soda benefits anything other than the bank accounts of the people who sell it.

    And the latest research is no exception.

    A new look at data on 42,883 men between the ages of 40 and 75 finds that those who drank the most sugary drinks had a 20 percent higher risk of a heart attack during the 22-year study -- a link that held even after adjusting for risk factors such as smoking, activity levels and a family history of heart problems.

    What's more, the researchers found that for each serving of a sugary drink you down in a day -- like one 12-ounce cola -- your risk of cardiovascular disease is boosted by 19 percent.

    In addition, the men who drank the most sugary drinks also had lower levels of HDL cholesterol -- that's the good stuff -- and higher levels of deadly triglycerides.

    Think that's bad? Hold on -- because the study in Circulation gets even worse: Men who drank the most soda had the highest levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP. That's an inflammation marker that can mean anything from heart disease to cancer to an autoimmune disorder.

    But none of this should be surprising, since all of these problems have been linked to sugar before -- and drinks are one of the biggest sources of sugar in the modern diet.

    A single can of soda, for example, has roughly 40 grams of the sweet stuff. That's like going to Starbucks and ordering a "tall" (or what the rest of us call a "small") 12-ounce coffee... and putting 10 sugars into it.

    It's an insane amount of sugar.

    For some incredible visuals on just how much of it is in each can, bottle, and Big Gulp, check out the images on the "Sugar Stacks" website.

    All that sweet stuff is bound to play havoc with your body. Along with all the risks I mentioned earlier, even a moderate soda habit can cause your blood sugar levels to spike -- eventually leading to metabolic syndrome and even diabetes.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll be any safer switching to diet either. Other studies have found that diet soda drinkers actually gain weight -- and at least one study linked diet soft drinks to an increased heart risk of its own, along with an increased risk of stroke.

    I'm not done with soda yet -- keep reading for more.

  2. How not to quit smoking

    A long list of risks just got even longer: The feds now say the anti-smoking drug Chantix can boost the odds of a heart attack.

    They claim the risk is small... but hey, they think you should know about it anyway.

    Isn't that nice of them?

    The FDA says a recent study of 700 smokers who already had cardiovascular disease found that patients who took the drug were a little more likely to suffer chest pain, non-fatal heart attacks, and other heart problems than those who were given a placebo.

    The agency says it'll update the warning labels and has ordered the drug's maker, Pfizer, to carry out a new analysis of previous trials to see if there's any other evidence of heart risk attached to the med.

    That's a little like asking a student to grade his own homework, isn't it?

    In this case, however, the "homework" is responsible for $800 million in annual sales -- so you can bet the student will give himself an "A+++" if he can.

    The truth is, we don't need a new analysis, a new study, or even a new warning to know that this med is bad news.

    Just look at all the risks -- including the possibility of suicide, even in patients who were not depressed before they started taking the drug. One recent study found that Chantix-related suicides could be twice as common as previously reported. (Read about it here.)

    The drug has also been linked to hostility, aggression and violence -- so much so that one analysis earlier this year found that Chantix users are 18 times more likely to be involved in violence than those who take any other drug. (Click here to read more.)

    Other side effects include hallucinations, paranoia, confusion and weird dreams -- and some of them can actually kick in even after you stop taking the drug.

    Of course, the feds say patients need to weigh the risks against the benefits -- and they think the risks of this drug are nothing compared to the benefits of kicking your tobacco habit.

    But that argument is a little ridiculous when you consider that up to 80 percent of all patients who try Chantix are back to smoking within a year.

    In other words, there's not a lot of benefit here... only more risk, hidden in a big cloud of FDA-approved smoke.

2 Item(s)