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Downing Sugary Drinks Raises the Risk of Heart Disease—Even in Skinny Women

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Women who drink sugary beverages on a daily basis may be raising their risk of heart disease—regardless of whether the scale reflects their poor diet choice, reported MSNBC.

The five-year study, which followed 4,166 people between the ages of 45 and 84, was presented Sunday at the American Heart Association's meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The findings revealed a "striking" disparity between the way men and women process sugar, according to Christina Shay, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Women with a sugary drinking habit developed high levels of the fat triglycerides, while men did not.

No matter the form—soda, sweetened teas or dessert-like coffee beverages—women who drank two or more sweet beverages a day faced an increased risk for heart disease, regardless of weight gain.

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"These drinks may be influencing heart disease risk factors even if people don't gain weight," Shay told MSNBC.

But many women in the study who did not pack on the pounds saw expanding waistlines. This "belly fat," cardiologists note, likely has a highly negative effect on heart health.

Dr. Stephanie Coulter, director for center for women's heart and vascular health Texas Heart Institute, compares the effects of drinking sugary drinks to a nuclear attack on the body. "...[H]ave a sugar drink, and all the sugar comes rushing into your system," Coulter told MSNBC. And if the body is insulin resistant and cannot regulate blood sugar, such as in diabetes patients, the extra sugar remains circulating in the blood.