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Heart Disease Health Center

1 Sugary Drink a Day May Raise Heart Risk

Study: Men Who Drank 1 Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Daily Had 20% Higher Risk of Heart Disease Than Non-Drinkers
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Sugar-Sweetened Drinks and Heart Disease: Study Details continued...

Those in the last group were considered the daily drinkers.

Those in the daily group were 20% more likely to wind up with a heart attack than the non-drinkers, Hu found.

This was true even after accounting for other factors, such as age, smoking, exercise, alcohol drinks, diet quality, weight, and family history of heart disease.

They looked at the blood samples. Men who drank sugar-sweetened drinks daily had higher indicators for heart disease than the non-drinkers did.

Those who had a daily sugar-sweetened drink had higher levels of blood fats called triglycerides, a risk factor for heart disease. They had lower levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol, another risk factor.

Artificially Sweetened Drinks: Study Results

The men also reported how frequently they drank artificially sweetened drinks.

Hu didn’t find a link between drinks sweetened artificially (such as diet sodas) and heart disease or indicators of heart disease.

"But it doesn't mean diet soda is the best alternative," he says. "The data on diet soda is quite limited."

Explaining Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Heart Disease

What can explain the link? "There are at least three things going on," Hu says.

"One is increased body weight, an immediate effect [of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages]. The second thing is blood lipids. It increases triglycerides and decreases HDL."

The drinks also increase inflammatory indicators linked with heart disease, he says, such as C-reactive protein. That has been found, he says, not only in his study but also in several others.

Sugar-Sweetened Drinks and Heart Disease: Perspectives

The findings are ''hardly a surprise," says Robert Lustig, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, who has researched childhood and adult obesity. He reviewed the findings for WebMD.

In his own research, he says, he has found a link between sugar-sweetened drinks and high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.

The new study provides some valuable information as to why the drinks and heart disease are linked, such as the inflammation effect, says Christina M. Shay, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, Lawton. In her own research, she has found a link between sugar-sweetened drinks and heart disease in women.

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