Vital Signs

Vital Signs

Risks: Sugary drinks linked to heart disease

A man who drinks one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened drink a day sharply increases his risk for heart disease, according to a large epidemiological analysis.

Researchers analysed data from a prospective study of 42,883 male health professionals, ages 40 to 75. The men responded to diet questionnaires every four years, and more than 18,000 of them provided blood samples.

Over 22 years, 3,683 of the men had heart attacks. Even after controlling for factors like smoking, exercise and family history, the scientists found that men who drank the sweetened beverages most often were 20 per cent more likely to have had a heart attack than those who drank the least.

They calculated that one serving daily of a sugar-sweetened beverage was linked to a 19 per cent increase in the relative risk of cardiovascular disease. The study was published online in the journal Circulation recently.

Sugar-sweetened drinks were linked with adverse changes in levels of HDL, triglycerides and C-reactive protein. Dr Frank B Hu, senior author of the analysis and a professor of medicine at Harvard, said that a study a little over two years ago found similar results in women.

Is diet soda a good alternative? No, said Dr Hu.

“Some studies have found a relationship between diet soda and metabolic disease,” he said.

Nicolas Bakalar

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