Study: Sugary drink each day ups men's heart disease risk by 20 percent

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(CBS News) Bad news for blokes who love soda. A new study has found drinking one glass of a sugary beverage each day might cause heart disease.

Soda a day may lead to heart attacks in menSwapping sugary drinks for diet soda, water leads to weight loss

For the study, Harvard researchers looked at almost 43,000 men between 40 and 75 who were involved in an earlier study that started in 1986 and ended in 2008. Every two years, the men would answer questions about their diet habits, and each man got a blood test halfway through the 22-year study.

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After controlling for other risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, lack of physical activity, alcohol use and family history of heart disease, the researchers still found that men who drank a 12-ounce sugary beverage each day were 20 percent more likely to develop heart disease. These men also had higher levels of heart disease markers triglycerides and C-reactive protein compared with non-drinkers, and lower levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. The study is published in the March 12 issue of Circulation.

"This study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health," study author Dr. Frank B. Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a written statement.

Drinking something sugary less frequently - like twice per week or twice per month - did not increase risk, nor did drinking diet beverages.

Study co-author Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at Harvard School of Public Health, told CBS News medical correspondent Dr. John LaPook that a typical 12-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, but lots of soda drinkers opt for a 20-ounce bottle, which contains up to 18 teaspoons of sugar in one sitting.

"Continually subjecting our bodies to high amounts of glucose, to high blood sugar levels that trigger large secretions of insulin results in stresses that in the long run show up as high risk of heart disease and diabetes," Willett told CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

The study looked only at men but previous research suggests women aren't off the hook. A study last November showed women who regularly drank sugary beverages were nearly four times more likely to have higher levels of triglycerides and sugar in their blood, compared with women who didn't drink soda. 

Heart disease kills more Americans than any other disease, almost 600,000 deaths each year.

That's not all. Recent studies have tied drinking sugary beverages to more risk for diabetes, obesity, strokes, COPD, insomnia, bone loss and headaches.

Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told Dr. LaPook that it's quite possible other factors contribute to these findings in soda drinkers.

"It's very likely people who choose to drink sugared soft drinks actually have a variety of health habits that are not heart healthy, and it may well be those health habits that are responsible for the increase in risk," he said. The American Beverage Association takes that same position.

The American Heart Association recommends that adult men consumer no more than 150 calories per day from added sugars, and 100 calories for American women.


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