Just how bad are soda’s health risks?

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A recent study indicated strong health risks linked to soda and sugary drink consumption — a seemingly common report that comes out every-so-often — but just exactly how serious are those risks?

In a report this week, The Huffington Post examined modern research conducted on some of the most serious of health risks associated with sugary beverages (from diet, to juice, to just regular cola) — beginning with the fact that just one sugar-sweetened beverage a day could increase a man’s chance of having a heart attack by 20 percent.

HEART ATTACKS:

The chance of heart attacks — perhaps one of the most frightening risks associated with soda — increases by 20 percent over a 22-year period a day in men who drink one sugary beverage each day.  The Harvard School of Public Health Study indicated that risk increased with each additional sugar-sweetened drink consumed.

The data came from a study that took place over 22 years.  Of 42,883 male participants, 3,683 had heart attacks — a portion of which were fatal.

Another study that looked at diet soda looked at 2,600 adults who drank diet soda regularly.  The participants were 40 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, the study suggests.

OSTEOPOROSIS:

A Tufts University study revealed that women who drank three colas a week had an average of 4 percent more bone loss at “important sites” in the hips as compared to any other beverage.

Kathleen Tucker, who led the research, said the flavoring phosphoric acid (found in both diet and regular cola) causes a greater acidity in the blood, which causes the body to “leach out” calcium from your bones to neutralize the acid.

WEIGHT GAIN:

Unwanted body fat may seem like the most obvious of risks, but many probably don’t expect diet soda to be as damaging as it may be.

Amanda Chan with the Post wrote about a new study presented to the American Diabetes Association in which diet soda consumption was linked to wider waists in humans. And while it hasn’t been proven in humans, artificial sweeteners used in diet soda were also shown to raise the blood sugar level of mice prone to diabetes.

TYPE 2 DIABETES:

Data collected from 90,000 adult women by the Nurse Health Study showed that women who consumed one or more sugary drinks like soda or juice each day were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

A different study explained that the heightened risk is due to an increased level of fasting glucose and insulin resistance.

METABOLIC SYNDROME / FATTY LIVER DISEASE:

Research indicates sugary soda is especially damaging to the cardiovascular health of women — even if it doesn’t cause weight gain.  Women who drink sugar-filled beverages are more likely to develop high levels of triglycerides, which indicate metabolic syndrome at high levels.  “Women who drank at least two sugary drinks per week were four times as likely to have dangerously high triglyceride levels as those who drank only one,” the Post reports.

Read more: huffingtonpost.com