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Drinking pop has been linked to a long list of ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. Now, a new study says it may lead to stroke.

"Soda remains the largest source of added sugar in the diet," Adam Bernstein, research director at the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute and lead author of the study, said in a release. "What we're beginning to understand is that regular intake of these beverages sets off a chain reaction in the body that can potentially lead to many diseases, including stroke."

The sugar in pop may cause blood glucose and insulin levels to spike, which in turn may lead to issues such as insulin resistance, inflammation and glucose intolerance. Such changes in the body influence risk factors for ischemic stroke, including plaque stability, thrombosis and atherosclerosis, researchers said.

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The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined soda consumption among more than 120,000 men and women who participated in long-term studies from the 1980s to 2008.

Researchers found that men and women who had more than one serving of sugar-sweetened pop a day had increased rates of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Those who consumed low-calorie pop were found to have a higher body mass index and a higher incidence of chronic disease. And while soda was not the only food in these people's diets that may be responsible for poor health, researchers controlled for other factors in order to determine the role of pop consumption in stroke risk.

A study published last year found that compared with people who don't drink any pop, people who drank diet soda daily were 48 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke or other vascular event.

Too much pop might even kill you. This week, a pathologist testified at an inquest that a New Zealand woman's excessive Coca-Cola consumption – up to 10 litres a day – likely contributed to her death.

The woman, 30-year-old Natasha Harris, died from a heart attack in 2010.

"The first thing she would do in the morning was to have a drink of Coke beside her bed and the last thing she would do at night was have a drink of Coke," testified Chris Hodkinson, her partner.

He said she also smoked about 30 cigarettes a day.

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Pathalogist Dan Mornin told the inquest that Harris's Coke consumption and poor nutrition likely caused her to suffer from hypokalemia, or low potassium, which can lead to symptoms that include abnormal heart rhythms.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola said in a statement that excessive consumption of any food can be "dramatically symptomatic," which seems to be a corporate euphemism for fatal.

"We concur with the information shared by the coroner's office that the grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients, and the failure to seek appropriate medical intervention when needed, can be dramatically symptomatic."



How often do you down a pop? Is there another not-so-good-for-you item you overindulge in?



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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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