Soda linked to increased heart attack risk in men

March 13, 2012, 2:36 p.m.

A new study has found a link between soda intake and increased heart attack risk in males. (Credit: Friedemann Wulff-Woesten/Flickr Creative Commons)

That serving of soda might not be worth it for males – a new study has linked soda intake to an increased heart attack risk.

The study, which appeared in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation, found that men who drank a single 12-ounce sugar-sweetened drink a day have a 20 percent higher risk of heart attacks.

Southside Angelenos, in particular, should take heed – the L.A. County Department of Public Health released statistics in 2009 that indicated 56.2 percent of adults in South Los Angeles drink at least one soda or sweetened drink a day, more than any other area in the county and nearly 20 percent higher than the county's overall percentage of 38.8 percent. South L.A. also has the highest percentage of children who drink at least one soda or sweetened drink a day in the county – 55.4 percent, compared to the county's 43.3 percent.

In 2007 a similar study by the same journal found that any soda – including the diet variety – increases the likelihood of getting metabolic syndrome, a name for a group of risk factors like extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body and insulin resistance. When these risk factors occur together, they increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Walter Willett, a doctor who is also a co-author of the new study, told CBS News that the typical 12-ounce soda contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar. Not everyone stops at 12 ounces, though – many consume up to 20 ounces of soda, which contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar, in one sitting.

"Continually subjecting our bodies to high amounts of glucose, to high blood sugar levels that trigger large secretions of insulin," Willett told CBS, "results in stresses that in the long run show up as high risk of heart disease and diabetes."

It makes sense that South L.A. over-consumes soda and sugary drinks. With approximately 71.8 percent of the area's eateries being fast-food establishments – and with soda being a staple of the fast-food combo, it may be difficult or less convenient for community members to find the less sugary options. Some doctors, too, are saying the fast-food component plays a major role in the link between soda and heart attack risk.

Steven Nissen is the chairman of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic. "It's very likely people who choose to drink sugared soft drinks actually have a variety of health habits that are not heart healthy," he explained to CBS News. "And it may well be those health habits that are responsible for the increase in risk."

The study looked at 42,833 men over 22 years and followed their diet, exercise and smoking habits, as well as their weight.

Photo by Friedemann Wulff-Woesten via Flickr Creative Commons.

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