Increase in sugar intake has been traditionally known for its association with weight gain, obesity, and also with Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. However, there seem to be no limits to the damages sugary drinks can cause. It has again been incriminated. This time it is shown to directly cause coronary heart disease leading to myocardial infarction.
In a recent study by Dr. Lawrence de Koning, et al titled “Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men” published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers concluded thus:
“Even a moderate amount of sugary beverage consumption — we are talking about one can of soda every day — is associated with a significant 20% increased risk of heart disease even after adjusting for a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors,”
Senior author Dr. Frank B Hu (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA) said . “The increased risk is quite substantial, and I think has important public-health implications given the widespread consumption of soda, not only in the US but also increasing very rapidly in developing countries.”
Hu further says water is the best thing to drink, or coffee or tea. Fruit juice is “not a very good alternative, because of the high amount of sugar,” he adds, although if diluted with water, “it’s much better than a can of soda.”
And Hu went on to say although the current results apply only to men, prior data from his group in women in the Nurses’ Health Study [from 2009] were comparable, “which really boosts the credibility of the findings.”
Intake of sugar-sweetened drinks, but not artificially sweetened ones, was also significantly associated with increased triglycerides and several circulating inflammatory factors — including C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor-necrosis-factor receptor 1 (TNFr1) — as well as decreased HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein (a) (Lp[a]), and leptin (p < 0.02).

“Inflammation is a key factor in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disease and could represent an additional pathway by which sugar-sweetened beverages influence risk,” say Hu et al.

“Doctors should set an example for their patients first,” he stresses. “Then, for people who already have heart disease or who are at high risk, physicians should be advising them to cut back on sugary beverages; it’s almost a no-brainer, like recommending that they stop smoking and do more exercise. The consumption of sugary beverages is a relatively easy behavior to change.”

And although this particular study included mostly white subjects and there are few data on the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with the consumption of soda in people of other ethnicities, there are data on its effect on type 2 diabetes in these groups, he says.

“It has been shown for minority groups — such as African Americans and Asians — that they are more susceptible to the detrimental effects” of sugary drinks on diabetes incidence, he notes.
To Sum it all up
This study found that men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study had a significantly higher risk of a myocardial infarction if they consumed more sugar-sweetened beverages.
The same risk was not apparent for artificially sweetened beverages.
Men who frequently drink sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages may be putting themselves at risk of a heart attack.

This is one situation we can remedy with little efforts. We learn a habit; we can unlearn it easily for our own benefit. We can live longer with good life quality if we choose. This is one way to achieve this.


Lisa Nainggolan: A Soda a Day Raises CHD Risk by 20% ( )

Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, Medpage Today: Sugary Drinks Tied to More Heart Attacks ( )

Primary source: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association
Source reference:
De Koning L, et al “Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men” Circulation 2012; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.067017.


  1. March 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Tiring. Exactly what can one eat or drink that really do not have some sort of side effect? Eating right in Nigeria is definitely an exclusive preserve of the rich.

    • admin
      March 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm


      You’ll be surprised to know that most rich folks don’t eat right. In the bid to copy western culture, we got ourselves cross-eyed.

      We are talking about sugary drinks here and you will agree that we can do something about that. High sugar intake is related to obesity and type 2 diabetes melitus but when reports are pointing to its direct deleterious effects on the heart, then we better cut down. 😀

    • April 18, 2012 at 6:15 am

      Honestly, I think that it’s short sighted to think that taxing soft drinks will make a dent in obesity. Taxing sodas won’t magically make people start exercising and eating healthier foods. They might stop drinking soft drinks (though that is even unlikely), but until you get people to pick up a carrot instead of a cheeto, the problem will be there. Still, I’m not opposed to the idea. I kind of like taxes. Tax the sodas and pour the money into educating people on nutrition and exercise!

  2. Steve
    April 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm


    Good you mentioned taxing as a means of reducing sugary intake. As you mentioned, if the money derived from taxation is invested in educating people on dangers of sugars, then results might be expected.

    However, the article goes a level deeper. It explores the fact that sugars not only cause obesity but also has a direct deleterious effect on the heart. So in effect, making sugary drinks doubly dangerous.

    We really can’t be too careful when we avoid sugary drinks can we?

  3. Blessing Jagbade
    April 19, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I suggest another way to reach out to the general public about the effect of sugary drinks is by advertisement on television.

  4. admin
    April 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    @Blessing Jagbade,

    Adverts on the television? When last did you see any Public Health related adverts on any of our television stations aside from those by companies trying to advertise their products and using health related topics? To start with, the will on the part of our government is important on this issue. Secondly, our govt. will say something like “we have myriads of health conditions that are caused by unhealthy habits, so which ones should the adverts be focused on?”

    The very people that have the money and could help with public enlightenment are the ones that would least likely want to do so. Do you think a Soft drinks manufacturing company would sponsor such an advert? Drug companies would rather want you to buy medications for diabetes and heart conditions rather than mount up campaigns on preventive measures.

    I think enlightenment starts from such activities as the ones on this and similar web sites as well as communicating what we learn by words of mouth from person to person.

    Intensifying and upgrading health education and public health enlightenment in our elementary and secondary schools will also go a long way in helping the situation.

    More suggestions on the way forward are welcome on this topic.

    More comments and discussion please.

  5. May 31, 2012 at 9:09 am

    A good study. The link between Sugary drinks and Coronoary heart disease is a very important one. However, it will be great to have more studies in other parts of the world to corroborate this.

    We challenge the Admin of this site to do a similar study in Nigeria so that we can envisage the outcome in our locality. Peculiar to our environment, where many people live on less than 2 dollars a day and a bottle of coke will just be the only meal some may have in a day in their place of work! Will this “Sugary Drink” in this condition be enough to constitute a Coronoary heart disease hazard in this group of people as found in the study in the US? Food for thought, Ma’ Broda.

    We need to assume that groups analysed in this study are from a resource rich country and may have access to enough calories in a day compared to some of us living in a resource deficicient nation!

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