Dangers of Cola and Soft Drinks

Dangers of cola and soft drinks result in an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, regular consumption of cola also leads to lower bone mineral density in older women and increase their risk of osteoporosis, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. With apologies to George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Cola is B-B-B-Bad, B-B-B-Bad, Bad to the bone!

Osteoporosis is a progressive, silent disease and is often misunderstood as a natural consequence of aging. Four times as many women will develop osteoporosis than men and currently 10 million Americans suffer from it. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. A hip fracture requires hospitalization and major surgery.

Osteoporosis is preventable and the nearly 34 million Americans who have the potential to develop the disease can take steps to prevent it. Phosphoric acid, found in cola, is a risk factor for osteoporosis has been shown to reduce calcium absorption. Additionally, it is believed that high fructose corn syrup also weakens bone. It is important to note that at least one previous study showed a link between cola consumption and increases in the amount of calcium measured in urine.

Research at Tuft University in Boston analyzed dietary questionnaires submitted by 1,125 men and 1,413 women between the ages of 29 and 86. Overall, participants were largely former smokers and moderate drinkers who were slightly overweight and, on average, men drank cola five times a week while women drank it four times a week.

Density measurements show cola consumption significantly reduced bone mass in the hip regardless of the woman�s age, menopausal status, intake of calcium and vitamin D and her history of smoking and alcohol consumption. Diet cola had a similar affect on women�s bone density. By contrast, the bone density of men was not similarly affected.

The Tuft study shows that women are more sensitive to the effects of cola than men. Researchers ruled out the possibility that cola replaces healthier beverages, such as milk, in the diet that might lead to lower bone density. And to the point of gender, they suggest that more physical activity, a diet higher in calcium and different hormone levels might help protect males from the downside of drinking cola. Until further research is done, however, women (and men) can keep their bones strong with regular weight-bearing exercise and high intake of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.

Reporting in The Lancet, a British medical journal, a team of Harvard researchers presented the first evidence linking soft drink consumption to childhood obesity. They found that 12-year-olds who drank soft drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight than those who didn't.

For each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two-year study, the risk of obesity increased 1.6 times.

Obesity experts called the Harvard findings important and praised the study. The Harvard researchers spent 19 months following the children, rather than capturing a snapshot of data from just one day. It's considered statistically more valuable to conduct a study over a long period of time.

Researchers found that schoolchildren who drank soft drinks consumed almost 200 more calories per day than their counterparts who didn't down soft drinks.

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