Sugar in Food: Does Drinking Sugar-Sweetened Sodas Raise Your Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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.


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4 Replies to “Sugar in Food: Does Drinking Sugar-Sweetened Sodas Raise Your Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis?”

  1. I think that this article gets one thing wrong. The women aren’t drinking sugar laden drinks, they are drinking high fructose corn syrup laden drinks. This seems to make a huge difference.

    1. From the Nutrition Action Healthletter: High Fructose Corn Syrup, on average, is about half fructose and half glucose—the same as ordinary table sugar (sucrose), so the women were, in fact, drinking sugar-laden drinks.

    1. From the Nutrition Action Heathletter: Only a smattering of foods contain pure fructose. Some examples are Vitaminwater, Kashi GOLEAN Crunchy! Protein & Fiber Bars, and Weight Watchers Yogurt.

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