March 17 (UPI) -- The number of studies linking sugary drinks to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease continues to grow.
In fact, people who drank two or more sugary drinks each day had a 31 percent higher chance of dying early from a stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular event compared to those who don't, according to a new study published Monday in Circulation. And for each additional drink consumed, a person's risk of early cardiovascular-related death goes up by 10 percent.
"Previous studies have shown strong and consistent associations between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. But few studies have looked at the association between consuming sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of premature death and cause of death," said Vasanti Malik, a researcher at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health and study lead author, told UPI.
Sugar-sweetened beverages hold the single largest source of sugar in a person's diet. One can of soda per day is said to be equivalent to eating 50 pounds of sugar per year.
Consumption of carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks has fallen in the U.S. over the last 10 years. But the number of adults who consume them has risen, and many are exceeding the recommended daily calorie limit of 10 percent for anything with added sugar.
Drinking two or more sugary beverages each day is also associated with a 21 percent jump in overall risk of death, while one to two daily drinks increases that risk by 14 percent.
Even drinking one to four sugary beverages a month is associated with a 1 percent risk in early death.
Sugar-sweetened beverages have already been linked to kidney disease and other ailments.
Drinking diet beverages isn't much better, the study suggests. People who consumed four or more artificially sweetened beverages still had a higher risk of dying early or developing cardiovascular disease than those who didn't drink them at all.
And one study says that post-menopausal women who drink diet soda have a higher risk of stroke.
"Sugar-sweetened beverages may contribute to cardiovascular death or premature death through inducing cardiometabolic and chronic disease risk such as cardiovascular death and diabetes," Malik said.
Malik said that, aside from companies reducing the amount of sugar in their products or producing beverages containing less sugar, consumers can seek out better choices for beverages, both with the help of a health professional and even by reading the sides of packages more carefully.