More bad news for soda drinkers: Yet another study has linked drinking even a single sugar-sweetened beverage a day to a greater risk of heart disease.
The new study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found men who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 20 percent higher risk of heart disease compared to men who didn't drink any sugar-sweetened drinks.
"This study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health," said Dr. Frank B. lead researcher and nutrition specialist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Certainly, it provides strong justification for reducing sugary beverage consumption among patients, and more importantly, in the general population."
For the study, researchers tracked 42,883 men enrolled in the long-running Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. From 1986 to 2008, participants – ages 40-75 -- answered questionnaires about diet and other health habits. They also provided blood samples.
In reviewing the health records of the men in the study, Harvard researchers found a significant link between sugary beverages and heart disease after ruling out other potential factors – such as smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and family history of heart disease.
Less frequent consumption — twice weekly and twice monthly — didn't increase risk, the study found.
Researchers also measured various biomarkers for heart disease. They found drinkers of sugary beverages had higher levels of harmful C-reactive protein and lipids called triglycerides, as well as lower levels of so-called “good” high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
Artificially sweetened beverages were not linked to increased risk or biomarkers for heart disease in this study.
Researchers noted sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugars in the American diet. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar sweetened beverages to no more than 450 calories from beverages a week (based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet).