The reasons to give up soda just keep mounting: cancer, cavities, and even water pollution. Now you can add accelerated cellular aging to that list, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
How Soda Destroys Your Body
Looking at DNA samples of 5,309 participants, the researchers found that drinking soda was related to shorter telomere length in white blood cells. The researchers estimated that drinking 20 ounces of soda daily made you 4.6 years older.
"[Telomeres] are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes," says Lauren Kessler, author of Counterclockwise. "Just as plastic tips keep your shoelaces from unraveling, telomeres keep your DNA from beginning to fray during cell division." Previous research has shown that as telomeres get shorter (generally from age-related damage), your cells stop dividing. Cell division is what keeps us youthful and keeps our organs functioning properly.
Essentially, cellular aging due to telomere shortening is at the root of many health issues, such as inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative damage to tissue. The researchers point out that telomere length has even been connected to lifespan.
"Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body's metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues," says study author Elissa Epel, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco, in a press release.
Surprisingly, the connection between sugar and telomere length was independent of other sugar-related issues like obesity or diabetes. In fact, sugar issues and aging go hand-in-hand. "One of the most devastating of the so-called age-related changes, according to Tufts [researchers], is reduced blood-sugar tolerance, the body's ability to use glucose in the bloodstream," she says. "By age 70, they say, 20 percent of men and 30 percent of women have abnormal glucose-tolerance levels."
So how many people are shortening their lives by 4.6 years by downing a daily 20-ouncer?
Source: Rodale News
NB: 20 ounces is 2.5 cups.