A can of fizzy drink increases the risk of heart disease by nearly a quarter– and it’s men who are most at risk, scientists have warned.
According to research by Harvard School of Public Health, the level of blood biomarkers linked to heart disease are raised by regular consumption of sugary soft drinks.
Scientists investigated the connection between fizzy beverages and heart disease by analysing data of 43,000 men, taken from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
During the study, researchers measured the fats and proteins in the blood (major indicators for heart disease) and compared these to non-drinkers.
They discovered that men who regularly drank fizzy drinks had high levels of triglyceride blood fats and inflammation marker C-reactive protein. These are both significant triggers of heart disease.
Adding to the damaging findings, researchers also found fizzy drinkers had lower levels of high-density lipoprotein, a good form of cholesterol, which helps protect against heart disease.
Researchers concluded that one can of fizzy drink a day increases the risk of heart disease by 20%.
“This study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health,” says professor Frank Hu from the study, reports the Press Association.
“Certainly, it provides strong justification for reducing sugary beverage consumption among patients and, more importantly, in the general population.”
Adding to this, dietician from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said in a statement: "We already know that too many sugar-sweetened drinks are bad for our teeth and the excess calories from them can make us put on weight - a risk factor for heart disease.
"But whilst we need more research to understand how else sugary drinks may affect our heart health, the study reminds us that they shouldn't be a daily part of our diet.
“Go for healthier alternatives such as water, low fat milk or unsweetened juices which are kinder to our waistlines as well as our heart."
Dr Dermot Neely from HEART UK, told HuffPost Lifestyle: "This report from a 20 year follow-up of more than 40,000 middle aged US health professionals highlights the potential dangers of drinking large amounts of sugar sweetened soft drinks (more than 2 litres per week).
"Although the increase in risk appears slight, the effects of the extra sugar energy intake include weight gain, high blood fat levels and lower levels of the “good” cholesterol fraction (HDL-cholesterol) were found in those drinking the greatest quantities. The changes in blood explain most of the extra risks of heart disease but the effects are complex and not fully understood.
"Three years ago a similar finding from the US Nurses follow-up study provided evidence relating intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks to heart disease risk and the development of hypertension and diabetes. As concerns have recently been raised about the health effects of artificially sweetened drinks, the best way to quench thirst cheaply and safely is a nice cold glass of British tap water."
However, the British Soft Drinks Association slammed the study, claiming fizzy drinks are not to blame for heart disease.
A spokesperson from the BSDA, said in a statement: "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.
“The authors found an association between consuming sweetened beverages and cardiovascular risk, but this could have been the result of other lifestyle changes over the 22-year study period involving men 40 to 75 years of age.
"The soft drinks industry offers a wide range of diet, low calorie and no added sugar drinks, with full nutritional information on each, so that people can choose soft drinks as part of their balanced diet."
This research follows a previous study, which discovered that two fizzy drinks a day increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease.