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Sugary and diet drinks up your odds of developing A-fib, study shows

Photos: mikroman6/hudiemm/gettyimages

Adults who drink a 2-liter’s worth of sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages a week may increase their risk of developing atrial fibrillation, results of a recent study show.

A-fib causes the heart to beat irregularly, putting people at risk for a stroke fivefold, the American Heart Association says.

Using 2006-2010 data from more than 200,000 people ages 37-73, researchers examined dietary questionnaires and genetic data for those who didn’t have A-fib. During a median follow-up almost 10 years later, they identified more than 9,300 cases of A-fib.

They concluded that, compared with participants who didn’t drink sugar-sweetened beverages, the people who drank 2 liters or more of them a week were 10% more likely to develop A-fib. For people who drank artificially sweetened beverages, the risk increased to 20%.

“Do not take it for granted that drinking low-sugar and low-calorie artificially sweetened beverages is healthy,” said lead study author Ningjian Wang, a physician at the Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai. “It may pose potential health risks.”

The study was published online in the AHA’s journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

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