Jan 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Drinking Soda Linked to Premature Aging

Oct 21, 2014 05:15 PM EDT

As a common beverage in households, cafeterias, fast food joints, and practically every public place the world over, sodas are amongst the most popular drinks in the nation. But new research reveals that they may just be the thing causing those pre-mature wrinkles you complain about in the mirror.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five Americans has an intake of one soda a day, and nearly 12 percent of all adults drink at least one serving of sweetend juices daily. According to Time Magazine, soda consumption has been on a decline since the late 1990s, with 20 per cent drop in U.S per capita consumption. And researchers forecast is that the trend will continue until 2025, when soda consumption will decrease by an additional 20 per cent. But will this be too late for an aging America?

Just recently, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that an intake of an 8-ounce of soda on a daily basis could add almost two years to an individual's age, in terms of phenotypic signs of aging. A process researchers are saying is similar to what smoking does to the body.

Consequently, people who drank the equivalent of two cans of cola a day had DNA changes in their cells, making them 4.6 years older, according to the study.

Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco, and senior author of the study said that regular intake of soda amongst the research participants shortened their telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell in our body. The study noted that shorter telomeres have been linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

According to reports from Daily Mail, telomeres get shorter as one gets older, making the DNA weaker and easily-damaged. This also increases the chances of one acquiring age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Shorter than average telomeres are seen as a sign of ill health and premature death.

Epel and her team analyzed data from 5,309 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) over the course of roughly the past 14 years. The study discovered that telomeres of people who drank more soda were shorter. The group showed similar patterns for the telomere length for people who smoke.

"The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism," Epel said.

However, for those with a sugary sweet tooth with soda on the mind, researchers say not all hope is lost. Previous research published in the journal Lancet Oncology shows that it's possible to increase telomere length by as much as 1 per cent over five years by having a healthy lifestyle: being less stressed and eating a healthy diet. So if you're planning on an afternoon soda, perhaps you should try to hit the gym while you're at it.

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