The study which was comprised of adult men found that over a 20 year period consuming just 1 can of pop a day can increase your risk of coronary heart disease by 20%! That's a huge risk for just one beverage per day. This was still the case even when taking into consideration family history, medications, vitamins, weight, diet, alcohol and smoking.
Makes you think twice about opening that can huh? The study didn't find the same association with artificially sweetened beverages (like diet pop) but did warn that diet drinks tend to still be associated with weight gain. The study didn't include women, but there have been other studies like the like Nurses Health Study which have found similar results.
The exact reason for why there is a link between sugary beverages and heart disease is still not known but there is suspected it might have something to do with inflamation in the arteries caused by the excessive sugar.
Overall, your best bet is to drink water, coffee and tea. Milk can also be a healthy choice and the occasional glass of wine can even be protective to your heart health. If you're looking for a small change in your diet that will make a big difference to your waist line and your health....consider calling things off with the soda.
On a side note, all this sugary beverage talk makes me think of that TV show Toddlers and Tiaras. Many of the mothers on that show feed their children sugared beverages or pixie sticks candy to keep them awake. One little girl on the show has become famous for her own concoction knowns as "GoGo Juice" which is a combination of Red Bull and Mountain Dew. What do you think this poor little girl's risk of heart disease is going to be if she's been downing these since she was six? Personally, it just makes me sad.