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  • Four cans of pop a day raised depression  risk 30%
  • But drinking four cups of coffee decreased  risk by 10%

By  Fiona Macrae

PUBLISHED: 16:12 EST, 8  January 2013 |  UPDATED: 20:46 EST, 8 January 2013

Cutting out sweetened diet drinks could lower risk of depression, say researchers
Cutting out sweetened diet drinks could lower risk of  depression, say researchers

If you are feeling low, it may be best to lay  off the fizzy drinks and have a cup of coffee instead.

A study has linked soft drinks to depression  – with diet versions particularly problematic.

Coffee, however, appeared to have the  opposite effect.

The finding comes from US researchers who  studied the drink consumption of 265,000 men and women aged 50 to 71.

Ten years into the study, the volunteers were  asked if they had been diagnosed with depression in the previous five  years.

Those who drank more than four cans of soft  drinks a day were 30 per cent more likely to have had depression than those who  drank none, the American Academy of Neurology conference heard. The risk seemed  greater among those who preferred diet drinks.

The researchers said this may be due to the  presence of the artificial sweetener aspartame, which yesterday was  provisionally given a clean bill of health by the European Food Safety  Authority, following a review.

Unsweetened coffee could lower the risk of depression
Unsweetened coffee could lower the risk of  depression

Making the link does not prove soft  drinks  cause depression.

But researcher Honglei Chen said: ‘While our  findings are preliminary and the underlying biological mechanisms are  not  known, they are consistent with a small but growing body of evidence suggesting  that artificially sweetened beverages may be associated with poor health.’

The study found that those who had  four cups  of coffee a day were 10 per cent less likely to become  depressed than  non-coffee drinkers.

Dr Chen said this may be due to the  caffeine  in coffee stimulating the brain.

The British Soft Drinks Association  urged  caution over the findings and pointed out that the scientists  themselves said  that more research is needed.

Previous studies have linked soft drinks to  heart attacks, diabetes, weight gain, brittle bones and pancreatic  cancer.

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