Soda a day may increase your heart disease risk by 20%

A study in the American Heart Association's 'Circulation' publication warns of new dangers of regular soda drinking.

The study, by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, followed 40,000 men for 22 years, and a similar study of women came out with similar results. The conclusions: a sugary beverage a day increases the risk of developing heart disease by 20%, and also makes for adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors and leptin. This, in addition to other documented concerns about weight gain and increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers did not find an increase in chronic heart disease risk with artificially sweetened beverages. And, the studies indicate soda may be worse than fruit juices because some of the chemicals in them are also linked to bone loss (osteoporosis conditions).

Dr. Rich O'Neill, psychologist at SUNY Upstate, says water, tea and coffee are alternatives, or fruit juice diluted with water to cut the sugar. He also advises skipping soda for kids so they don't get conditioned to want it.