Sodas and other sugary drinks can damage your teeth. A lot. (Research from the University of Adelaide recently showed that the destruction starts within the first 30 seconds of exposure!) Regular consumption has also been shown raise your risk of stroke and heart disease.
Now comes a new study suggesting that those cardiovascular issues may stem from the impact of sugary drinks on celluar aging.
Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study analyzed dietary factors and telomere length. Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the end of our chromosomes that help protect them. They become shorter, though, as cells divide. When they get too short, the cell dies (as all cells do, eventually). Scientists have thus found telomere length to be a good sign of of aging. (Or as the title of one paper straightforwardly put it, “Short telomeres are sufficient to cause the degenerative defects associated with aging.”)
The current study found an association between regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and shorter telomeres. No such association was found for diet sodas, though – or, somewhat oddly, non-carbonated sugar-sweetened drinks. The authors’ conclusion was straight-forward:
Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging.
Yet one more reason to steer clear of sugary sodas – or at least make them only a sometimes-thing.
Image by Samulili, via Wikimedia Commons