Drinking soda, sports drinks and other sugary beverages increases the risk of dying from heart disease and some types of cancers, according to new research.
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Harvard researchers found that the more sweetened beverages a person drank, the greater their risk of dying from heart disease. In a study published Monday in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, they also found sugary drinks were associated with a moderately higher risk of dying from breast cancer or colon cancer.
Drinking artificially sweetened drinks did not produce the same effects. However, women who drank more than four diet beverages per day died at a higher rate than other groups, particularly from heart disease. Lead author Vasanti Malik warned that this statistic might be inflated because people could have switched from drinking regular soda.
Researchers also found that swapping sugary drinks for diet versions could moderately reduce a person's risk of death, though they still recommend that people drink water. The study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugary drinks can cause people to gain weight and possibly lead to a slew of health conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
"The big picture is really starting to emerge," said Malik, a research associate at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "This is not random. There's a whole lot of consistency across these findings."