According to a new study conducted by Harvard, drinking one to two cans of sugary drink per day can increase the risk of dying from heart disease by up to 31%.
As the researchers pointed out, drinks such as sugar-sweetened soda, juice, and energy drinks not only drastically increase the risk of dying from heart disease but also increase one’s chances of premature death by other causes, such as cancer, by 21%.
While switching sugary drinks for diet, sugar-free alternatives, results in lower risk of premature death according to the study, the risk also increases depending on the amount consumed and can reach alarming rates if a person drinks over four cans per day.
The research was led by Vasanti Malik, a department of nutrition scientist of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Our results provide further support to limit intake of SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity,” Malik said.
Before the researchers could come to this conclusion, they analyzed over 37,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986 to 2014) and more than 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980 to 2014).
Every two years, the participants of these studies were asked about their lifestyle habits and the state of their health.
According to the results of the study, the participants who drank more than a can of sugary drinks per day were up to 31% more likely to die due to heart disease than those who only drank SSBs once per month or less. Furthermore, every additional can of SSB adds 10% to the risk of experiencing heart disease.
“These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors,” Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard added.
“And the strong evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for premature death.
“The results also provide further support for policies to limit marketing of sugary beverages to children and adolescents and for implementing soda taxes because the current price of sugary beverages does not include the high costs of treating the consequences.”
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