The daily sugar-sweetened drink consumption was also linked to higher levels of harmful lipids in the blood and inflammation.
Researchers say that men who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 20 percent higher risk of heart disease compared to men who didn’t drink any sugar-sweetened drinks. The study was published in the journal Circulation.
Frank B. Hu, study lead author and professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Harvard School of Public Health notes that the study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health.
Researchers, who studied 42,883 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, found that the increase persisted even after controlling for other risk factors, including smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and family history of heart disease. Less frequent consumption – twice weekly and twice monthly – didn’t increase risk.
Researchers also measured different lipids and proteins in the blood, which are indicators, or biomarkers, for heart disease. These included the inflammation marker C-reactive protein (CRP), harmful lipids called triglycerides and good lipids called high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Compared to non-drinkers, those who consumed sugary beverages daily had higher triglyceride and CRP and lower HDL levels.
Artificially sweetened beverages were not linked to increased risk or biomarkers for heart disease in this study.
Participants were primarily Caucasian men 40-75 years old. All were employed in a health-related profession. Health habits of the men in the study may differ from those of the general public, but findings in women from the 2009 Nurses’ Health Study were comparable, Hu explains.