In the past 10 years, sweetened soft drinks drowned us in a tidal waveof diabetes and heart disease, according to a new U.S. study, reportedby HealthDayNews.

Specifically, the study linkedsweetened beverages to 130,000 new cases of diabetes, 14,000 new casesof heart disease and an increase in the years people lived with heartdisease.

For the study, researchersapplied a computer simulation of heart disease to obesity and dietarysalt, conditions that are risk factors for cardiovascularillnesses.

“We probably underestimated theincidence, because the rise is greatest among the young, and our modelfocuses on adults 35 and older,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD,an associate professor of medicine at the University of California inSan Francisco, and the study’s leadauthor.

“Whatever the mechanism, large populationstudies do suggest an effect of drinking lots of sweetened beverages,”Bibbins-Domingo added. “No one argues that these drinks are not fine inmoderation, but over the past decade their consumption has been on therise, while consumption of other beverages hasdeclined.”

Since the study hasn’t been published ina scientific journal, other researchers haven’t yet reviewed thefindings, said Maureen Storey, senior vice president for science policyfor the American Beverage Association.

Storey issueda statement saying that the American Heart Association does not listthe consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks as a heart disease riskfactor.

But that doesn’t mean reducing consumptionof these beverages won’t boost people’s health, counteredBibbins-Domingo.

To counter the health risksassociated with sugary drinks, some politicians have proposed taxingthe beverages. Bibbins-Domingo said that any policy that would reducethe number of sweetened drinks consumed has scientific merit because“evidence in populations has consistently shown that more than one[sugary] drink a day increases your risk” of heart disease anddiabetes.

But Storey called these two diseasescomplex conditions that have no single cause and singlesolution.

“We need to continue to educate Americansabout the importance of balancing the calories from the foods andbeverages we eat and drink with regular physical activity,” Storeysaid.

And what does the American Heart Association(AHA) say?

Simply put, the AHA advises people tostop drinking so many sugary drinks, such as sodas, said Robert H.Eckel, MD, a past president of the association, and a professor ofmedicine at the University of Colorado.

Therecommended daily sugar intake for men is found in one can ofsugar-sweetened soda; for women, it is slightly less, Eckelsaid.

Eckel stressed that there are other healthiersweet-drink choices for people, such as nutrient-rich, 100 percentfruit juice.

To read more about the cardiovasculareffects of dietary sugar, click here to visit the American HeartAssociation’s website.