The study followed the health of 42,400 male participants aged 45 to 79 over a period of 12 years, and found 3,604 cases of a positive association between sweetened beverage consumption and risk of heart failure. Even more shockingly, researchers identified 509 people who died of the condition.
'Our study findings suggest sweetened beverage consumption could contribute to heart failure development,' they concluded.
'These findings could have implications for heart failure prevention strategies.'
A serving in the study was quantified as 200ml - the average soft drink can is 330ml. Interestingly, no distinction was made between drinks which contain sugar, and those sweetened artifically, although fruit juice and sugary tea and coffee were not included.
A standard 500ml bottle of drink would contain more than the two 200ml servings found to have an impact on heart health
The researchers did point out that the study was observational, a completely definitive conclusion could not be reached, and because it only involved older white men, the findings may not be applicable to younger ages, other genders or certain ethnic groups.
In addition, Spanish professors Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez and Miguel Ruiz-Canela commented in an accompanying editorial that people who drink a lot of sweetened drinks often have a poor diet overall, so it is difficult to determine whether the beverages alone impacted on the participants' health.
'The well-known association of sweetened beverages with obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for heart failure, reinforces the biological plausibility of (the) findings,' they explained.
'Based on their results, the best message for a preventive strategy would be to recommend an occasional consumption of sweetened beverages or to avoid them altogether.'
Would these findings make you think twice about reaching for a can of fizzy? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!