Sugary drinks linked to cell aging

Soda and other sweetened drinks may affect the body in other ways besides causing obesity. A new report published in the American Journal of Public Health concludes that drinking these sugary beverages may actually lead to more rapid aging of cells in the body.

Researchers found that study participants who drank more soda had shorter telomeres in their white blood cells. The average amount of soda consumption for study participants was 12 ounces, with 21 percent of the participant group drinking 20 ounces of soda per day. They measured telomeres from stored DNA of 5,309 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants ages 20 to 65, with no diabetes or cardiovascular disease history. Researchers found the amount of soda consumed correlated with telomere length.

Telomeres are DNA segments that protect the end of chromosomes in cells. The length of telomeres in white blood cells has been previously linked to life span, as well as aging, heart disease, and some types of cancer. This is the first study to link soda with telomere shortness. These findings were regardless of age, race, income and education level. While only adults were examined for this study, more research is required to determine if shorter telomeres are found in children who drink soda.

The authors note that soda is not necessarily causing shorter telomeres, but an association appears to be established.

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