Heart health is a very serious issue; we here at Sip & Savor completely agree. But when sensational headlines downplay real causes of cardiovascular disease by focusing on associations, we do a disservice to the public. Let’s be clear – association is not the same as causation. When it’s raining, you’re likely to see a lot of umbrellas. But the umbrellas aren’t causing the rain, are they? No, they’re only associated with rain. As we all learned in elementary school, it’s the water cycle that causes rain, not the umbrellas.
So why is this relevant today? You may have heard about a study that came out yesterday in the journal Circulation alleging that, among men, drinking sweetened beverages increases risk for heart disease. You can read our statement in response on our website. But we want you to know that drinking sweetened beverages does not cause an increased risk of heart disease – not based on the study published yesterday or any other study in the available science for that matter.
Don’t just take our word for it. CBS’ “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” did a segment on the study last night and noted that there are doctors who “caution that just because there may be a link between sugary drinks and heart attacks does not mean sugar is causing them.” One such doctor is Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic. In the CBS piece, he stated that, “It’s very likely people who choose to drink sugared soft drinks actually have a variety of health habits that are not heart healthy, and it may well be those health habits that are responsible for the increase in risk.”
After all, we know that heart disease is a complex problem with no single cause and no simple solution. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the major risk factors for heart disease are: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight, being physically inactive, unhealthy diet and stress. And while many risk factors are beyond our control, there are things we all can do – including not smoking, maintaining an appropriate body weight and being physically active – to help mitigate risk for heart disease.