Study links soda to 180,000 deaths across the world

<p>Soda</p>

Soda

We hear it all the time - soda is bad for us.

But now, a new Harvard study links soft drinks to thousands of deaths across America every year.

Health experts say soda contains empty calories which can cause weight gain, and that can lead to significant health issues.

They say if you drink too much, you could get diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, and those can lead to death.

Just about everywhere we look today, we're surrounded with the temptation to drink soda.

Signs, banners and even giant cups of caffeine fill communities across the world to try to get us to consume those sugary drinks.

And for many people, it appears to be working.

"I do drink a lot of soda. I'm a big pop fan" said Rachel Patterson.

Kennewick residents Rachel Patterson and Phillip Deshazer say they drink soda for the caffeine, and they consume the sweetened drinks just about every day.

"About 2 - 2 1/2 liters on a bad day" said Deshazer.

But soda drinkers may want to think twice before picking up another sugary beverage, after a new study links the drinks to 180,000 deaths a year across the world - 25,000 here in America.

Harvard researchers say the deaths are due to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Health experts in our area say drinking soda can be a slippery slope as it can lead to eating unhealthy foods.

"For instance, normally, when you have soda, what are you gonna do? You're running through the fast food, grabbing a hamburger. Or you're at the movie theater, grabbing a pop, popcorn" said Jennifer Helms, Kennewick General Hospital.

The 7-Eleven store in Kennewick sells about 100,000 sodas and 300,000 slurpees each year.

But the store has added some sugar free options.

"We try to keep about three sugar-free slurpee flavors in stock, and that really helps out our diabetic customers" said Don Mariotto, 7-Eleven owner.

Deshazer says the health risks aren't surprising, but he has no plans to cut back.

"If it did become a concern, I would think about changing it, but until that time comes, probably not" said Deshazer.

So how much soda is too much?

Health experts recommend drinking no more than one 12 ounce can a day.

They say one can of soda typically has 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than the daily recommended amount.

Women are recommended to have six teaspoons a day.

Men are recommended to have nine.

Health experts also say drinking too much soda can change your palette and your eating habits, making you crave more sugary and unhealthy foods.