New research has found that a daily soda habit is linked to an increased risk of heart failure. (Getty Images)
In case you didn’t need another reason to put down that soda. A 12-year study of more than 42,000 men aged 45 to 79 published in the journal Heart discovered that those who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda) a day were 23 percent more likely to develop heart failure than those who didn’t have sugary drinks.
Researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaire answers from Swedish men who participated in a population-based cohort and compared those responses to the Swedish National Patient Register and the Cause of Death Register to track their health. Among other questions, men were asked, “How many soft drinks or sweetened juice drinks do you drink per day or per week”? (Fruit juice was not included in the “sweetened beverage” definition.)
Researchers concluded that men who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a week had a “statistically significant higher risk developing heart failure.”
These findings are just the latest to break down the health risks of regular soda consumption. A review paper published in late September in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that consuming too many sugary beverages can lead to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Researchers also found that having one or two sugar-sweetened drinks a day can increase a person’s risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease by 35 percent.
Research published in the Journal of Hepatology in June found that people who drink just one or more sugar-sweetened beverage a day (like soda) are at an increased risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
While sales of sugary drinks are on the decline, about half of Americans still have sugary drinks each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heart disease is also the leading cause of death for American men and women, the CDC reports, and approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. each year.
Steven Burstein, MD, a cardiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, tells Yahoo Health that the latest findings aren’t surprising. However, he’s hesitant to say whether soda is the sole reason for the increased risk of heart disease.
“There’s certainly something that’s suggestive of the soda being the cause but there may be associated variables as well,” he says. “It’s difficult to say it’s definitely the soda and nothing else.”
Burstein says soda’s high sugar content and even caramel coloring could be the reason for the increased risk of heart disease, but notes that a two-sodas-a-day habit is probably not indicative of a healthy lifestyle. “Those are probably not athletes who train daily and watch their green vegetable intake,” he says.
However, he still recommends that people steer clear of sodas — including diet sodas — whenever possible, since research has shown that abdominal fat is higher in patients who drink diet soda, which can also contribute to heart disease.
While the research was conducted on men, Burstein says the same applies to women: “It would be very naïve for us to say it’s OK for women to drink sugary sodas and not men.”