(NaturalNews) The booming popularity of sugary soft drinks has led to 6,000 more deaths, 14,000 more cases of heart disease and 130,000 new cases of diabetes in the past 10 years, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and presented at the annual Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention conference of the American Heart Association.
"We can demonstrate an association between daily consumption of sugared beverages and diabetes risk," researcher Litsa Lambrakos said. "We can then translate this information into estimates of the current diabetes and cardiovascular disease that can be attributed to the rise in consumption of these drinks."
The researchers found that sugary soft drinks also contributed to the loss of 21,000 life-years, plus an increase of 50,000 in the life-years spent suffering from heart disease.
"We probably underestimated the incidence, because the rise is greatest among the young, and our model focuses on adults 35 and older," researcher Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo said.
The analysis included juices with sugar added but excluded 100 percent juice.
"Juice from fruit itself is nutrient-rich, and its nutritional value goes beyond the carbohydrate content," said Robert H. Eckel of the University of Colorado, a former president of the American Heart Association.
The findings may build new support for the growing push for a soda tax. According to policy experts, a tax of just one cent per ounce would reduce soda consumption by 10 percent.
"The reason why there is a current debate about a tax is that scientific evidence in populations has consistently shown that more than one drink a day increases your risk," Bibbins-Domingo said.
"The finding suggests that any kind of policy that reduces consumption might have a dramatic health benefit."
A single serving of soda or other sweetened soft drink contains between 120 and 200 calories of sugar, equivalent to a man's recommended intake for a full day and exceeding the recommended daily intake for a woman.