Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes painful, chronic inflammation of the joints, especially of the hands, feet, and neck. RA strikes women more often than men and is far less common than osteoarthritis.
Researchers tracked 186,900 women for 20 to 28 years. Those who consumed at least one sugar-sweetened soda per day had a 63 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (the most common kind) than those who consumed less than one soda per month. Among women who were diagnosed after age 55, the risk was 2 ½ times higher for those who drank at least one sugary soda per day.
Diet-soda drinkers had no higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
However, women who drank more non-diet soda had lower incomes, exercised less, and consumed a less-healthy diet. The researchers took those differences into account, but it’s possible that other, unknown differences could explain the soda drinkers’ higher risk.
What to do: Avoid sugar-sweetened soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit drinks. Though more studies are needed on RA, research has linked sugar drinks to a higher risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and gout.
Source: Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 100: 657, 2014.
Other relevant links:
- Sugary drinks can raise your risk of diabetes by 30%. See: Sugar in Food: Are Sugary Beverages Contributing to the Diabetes Epidemic?
- The soft-drink problem and how to solve it. See: It’s Time to Rein in “Big Soda”
- The link between added sugars and heart attack risk. See: Sugar in Food: Increasing Your Risk of a Heart Attack?