A can of sugary soft drink a day can increase a man’s risk of heart disease by 20 per cent, according to a large scale study carried out in America.
Scientists analysed data on almost 43,000 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a major health and lifestyle investigation in the US. The men were asked every two years between 1986 and 2008 and provide details about their diet.
Sugary soft-drinks increase the risk of heart disease in men
The research team, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, found that even after controlling risk factors like smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and family history, men who drank one can of sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 20 per cent higher risk of heart disease than those who consumed no sugary drinks.
Scientists also measured the fats and proteins in the blood of the men to look for indicators of heart disease. Men who regularly drank sugary drinks had high levels of harmful blood fats and proteins compared to non-drinkers.
The men who drank sugary drinks also had low levels of a beneficial form of cholesterol that protects against heart disease.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, also found that the more sugary drinks someone ingested the more the risk rose. As well as soft drinks like cola and lemonade, the risk also applied to fruit squashes in which sugar is added during manufacturing.
In contrast, diet varieties that use artificial sweeteners did not raise the risk of heart disease.
Dr de Koning, of Harvard University, said that although his study did not link diet soft drinks with heart problems, ‘better choices’ are available.
He said: ‘Water, coffee and tea are probably the best choices, after that would be low-fat milk. It is not clear whether fruit juice is a good replacement. There is a lot of sugar in it but it does have added benefits such as vitamins and fibre.’
However, the study has been rejected by the British Soft Drinks Association. A spokesman said: “Drinking sweetened beverages does not cause an increased risk of heart disease, not based on this study nor any other study in the available science."
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