Fizzy drinks linked to heart attacks? Don’t believe the headlines

Heart, News & Analysis

3rd September 2015

A study by Japanese researchers, which claims that fizzy drinks are ‘associated’ with heart attacks, has generated the headlines it was designed to.

‘Buying fizzy drinks linked to cardiac arrest attacks in new study,’ says the Mirror. The Daily Mail ran with ‘Fizzy drinks could increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.’ The Express was even more dramatic: ‘Fizzy drinks trigger HEART ATTACKS and STROKES, landmark study finds.’

A closer look reveals that the only evidence for this claim is that people who have cardiac arrests tend to consume more fizzy drinks. This could just be one aspect of a generally unhealthy lifestyle, with any number of potential factors ignored.

The study, which hasn’t been published or peer-reviewed, contains no empirical evidence for the link it claims to have established.

Despite this, the study’s principal investigator, Professor Keijiro Saku, professor of cardiology at Fukuoka University in Japan, implies that this research reveals new information about the link between fizzy drinks and heart attacks.

‘Carbonated beverages, or sodas, have frequently been demonstrated to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease (CV), such as subclinical cardiac remodelling and stroke. However, until now the association between drinking large amounts of carbonated beverages and fatal CVD, or out-of-hospital cardiac arrests of cardiac origin, was unclear.’

By saying that until now the association was unclear, the professor implies that it is clear now, although it’s anything but. Every study which has made the claim that fizzy drinks can cause heart attacks has relied on conjecture.

As the professor says: ‘The acid in carbonated beverages might play an important role in this association.’ But it also might not.