A new study has found that men who drink about a can of full-calorie soda or sugar-sweetened juice a day could be increasing their risk of developing heart disease by about 20 percent.
Published in the journal Circulation, Harvard researchers followed 42,880 men over 22 years, measuring the different lipids and proteins in the participants' bloodstream.
After controlling for risk factors like smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption and family medical history, scientists found that those who consumed sugary beverages on a daily basis had higher levels of triglycerides -- or bad fat -- and lower levels of good cholesterol or HDL levels compared to men who refrained from sugary drinks.
Both biomarkers are known to be associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
"This study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health," said lead author Frank Hu. "Certainly, it provides strong justification for reducing sugary beverage consumption among patients, and more importantly, in the general population."
The role of artificially sweetened beverages, meanwhile, is unclear.
Beginning in 1986, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about their diet and health habits every two years until 2008. The men also provided a blood sample midway through the project.
It's the latest study to find an association between the consumption of sugary drinks and the increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Last year, the American Heart Association also warned that women who drink more than two sugar-sweetened drinks a day may also up the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Another US study estimated that imposing a soda tax could prevent 100,000 cases of heart disease, 8,000 strokes and prevent 26,000 deaths a year.
Meanwhile, in response to charges that caramel coloring in soda is an animal carcinogen, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi said last week they will lower levels of the chemical 4-MEI to comply with recently imposed California requirements.
The southwestern state has a 29-microgram benchmark for 4-MEI in products. Anything that may expose consumers to a daily level higher than that must carry a warning label.