Older adults who drink sweetened beverages, and artificially sweetened diet drinks in particular, are at increased risk for depression, a large prospective study suggested.
Individuals ages 50 to 70 who consumed four cans or cups of sweetened soft drinks each day had a 30% increase in risk of developing depression (odds ratio 1.30, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.44, P<0.0001) compared with those who avoided such beverages, according to Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues.
The increased risk with diet soda was 31% (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.47) while that for regular soda was 22% (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.45), the researchers reported online in advance of presentation at the March annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
In contrast, drinking four cups of coffee daily was associated with an almost 10% lower risk for depression (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.84 to 0.98, P<0.0001).
“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,” Chen said in a statement.
Sweetened drinks and coffee are popular worldwide, and interest has been growing in recent years about the possible health consequences of this consumption.
To explore the possibility that beverage consumption could influence risk for depression, Chen and colleagues enrolled 263,925 older adults and reviewed their beverage intake from 1995 to 1996. A decade later, they asked the participants if they had been diagnosed with depression since 2000.
A total of 11,311 participants reported having had such a diagnosis.
As with soda, consumption of four or more cans or cups of fruit punch was associated with a 38% increase in likelihood for being diagnosed with depression (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.65, P<0.0001).
Moreover, compared with no consumption of fruit punch, the risk for diet fruit punch rose by 51% (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.92) while the increased risk with sugar-sweetened fruit punch was nonsignificant at only 8% (OR 0.79 to 1.46), Chen and colleagues reported.
Diet iced tea also was associated with a higher risk (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.41) than sugar-sweetened iced tea (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.08).
Further analysis of the specific constituents of these beverages revealed a 36% increase with high aspartame consumption (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.29 to 1.44) and a 17% decrease with high caffeine intake (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.78 to 0.89).
“More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors,” Chen advised in a statement.
Source: MedPage Today.