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Diet soda consumption linked to risk of depression

Monday January 14, 2013
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Drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults, according to a study.

Drinking coffee, meanwhile, was tied to a slightly lower risk in the study.

"Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences," Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, an author of the study and an investigator with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said according to a news release.

The study involved 263,925 people between ages 50 and 71 at enrollment. From 1995 to 1996, consumption of drinks such as soda, tea, fruit punch and coffee was evaluated. About 10 years later, researchers asked the participants whether they had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000. A total of 11,311 depression diagnoses were made.

People who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30% more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38% more likely to develop depression than those who did not consume sweetened drinks. People who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10% less likely to develop depression than those who drank no coffee.

The risk for depression appeared to be greater for people who drank diet versions of sweetened beverages when compared with those who drank regular soda (31% higher risk vs. 22% higher risk), regular fruit punches (51% higher risk vs. 8% higher risk) and regular iced tea (25% higher risk vs. 6% lower risk).

"Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," said Chen, a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors."

The study is scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting March 16-23 in San Diego. A PDF of the study abstract is available at www.aan.com/globals/axon/assets/10430.pdf.


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