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Sweetened Beverages and Their Potential Link to Atrial Fibrillation: A Closer Look at the Findings

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMay 29, 2024

In the face of rising global instances of atrial fibrillation (AF), a concern has emerged regarding the potential relationship between sweetened beverage consumption and this condition. A comprehensive study conducted by Ying Sun, MD, and colleagues investigated the consumption of different beverages – particularly sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), artificially sweetened beverages (ASB), and pure fruit juice (PJ) – and their links to the risk of AF, taking genetic susceptibility into account as well.

Over nearly a decade, within a group of more than 200,000 participants, the study documented 9,362 new cases of AF. Their analysis revealed a tangible increased risk for those consuming over two liters per week of either SSB or ASB when compared to non-consumers, with hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.10 and 1.20 respectively. Interestingly, drinking less than or equal to one liter per week of pure fruit juice appeared to slightly reduce AF risk.

The study also examined the intersection of genetic predisposition and beverage consumption. While high genetic risk individuals who consumed significant amounts of ASB showed the highest risk figures, it's noteworthy that no impactful interactions were observed between beverage consumption, genetic risk, and AF occurrence.

These findings have prompted careful consideration around beverage intake, especially among those at genetic risk for AF. They do not necessarily establish a direct cause-and-effect scenario but highlight the importance of lifestyle factors alongside genetic risk.

While the research was well-conceived, the authors acknowledge potential limitations, such as self-reported dietary data and the majority white British participant demographic which could affect the general applicability of the findings. However, the study's large scale and careful methodology provides a compelling glimpse into how dietary choices could potentially influence heart health.

View the full study at

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Sun, Y., Yu, B., Yu, Y., Wang, B., Tan, X., Lu, Y., Wang, Y., Zhang, K., & Wang, N. (2024). Sweetened Beverages, Genetic Susceptibility, and Incident Atrial Fibrillation: A Prospective Cohort Study. *Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, 17*(3), e012145.