Harvard Heart Letter

Early signs of heart disease in people who drink sugary sodas

Research we're watching

sugary soda heart diseaseNew research adds to the growing evidence linking a high-sugar diet to heart disease. A report in the April 16, 2016, American Heart Journal found that people who drank at least five sugar-sweetened sodas a week were more likely to have early signs of heart disease than people who drank less than one soda weekly.

The study, which included more than 22,200 adults (mostly men) in South Korea, relied on diet questionnaires and coronary artery calcium scans. These tests, which measure specks of calcium in the heart's arteries, are used to assess heart disease risk. Researchers adjusted the findings for possible confounders, such as age, high blood pressure or cholesterol, and family history of heart disease.

The study authors noted only 5% of the participants were frequent soda drinkers. That's far lower than in the United States, where about one-quarter of people drink more than one 12-ounce soda daily. Sugary beverages have also been linked to obesity and other heart disease risks.

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