Soda is one of the most popular treats around, but the amount of sugar in it should make people reconsider how much of it they drink. The excess sugar in soda has been tied to growing rates of obesity in the U.S. Now, new research from the University of California, San Francisco, suggests there is one more reason why you should refrain from regular consumption of soda: the sugar-sweetened beverage may hurt cell health by shrinking your telomeres.
"This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level," senior study author Elissa Epel, Ph.D., said in a statement. "Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well."
Recognize how diet can impact telomeres
The conclusions of Epel and her team, which are published in the American Journal of Public Health, are based on experiments in which the scientists analyzed the DNA of white blood cells collected from more than 5,300 individuals, ages 20 to 65 years. All of these people participated in an ongoing nationwide health study. The survey indicated that 21 percent of subjects said they drank about 20 ounces of soda per day.
Results suggested that soda consumption was linked to telomere health, and that the more soda people drank, the shorter their telomeres would be. By the researchers' estimation, daily consumption of 20 ounces of soda is linked to the equivalent of about 4.6 years of telomere shortening.
"It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres."
Although this study demonstrated an association between drinking soda and telomere shortening, it doesn't necessarily show a cause-and-effect relationship, which would need to be proved by further studies. In the meantime, this research on telomere shortening can be added to the growing body of evidence on the long-term consequences of regular soda consumption, which include obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Protect your telomeres
People all over the U.S. drink soda on a regular basis, One study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that people in 18 states surveyed drank about 151 extra calories per day in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages. Consumption was particularly high among those ages 18 to 34 years, as well as men, African Americans and Hispanic individuals.
If you're concerned about the health of your cells, consider drinking water instead of soda. Furthermore, you can support healthy aging with the help of a telomere length supplement.