Soft drinks as harmful as smoking

A study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and published in the American Journal of Public Health, looked at how sugary drinks affected the growth of human cells. More than 5000 participants were involved in the study, which looked at the effects that drinking sugary and sugar-free soft drinks had on telomeres.

Telomeres sit at the end of a cell and assist the cell in being able to divide and grow. Telomeres act like the plastic casing on the tip on a shoelace, protecting the end of the cell from fraying and preserving our genetic data. The further the cell divides, however, the shorter the telomere gets, until the cell is unable to continue dividing.

In the UCSF study, the researchers found that participants who regularly drank sugary soft drink had significantly shorter telomeres than those who drank it less frequently. The results suggested that drinking just 240 millilitres of sugary soft drink could speed up the ageing of telomeres by about 1.9 years. Additionally, the telomeres of people who regularly drank the average serving size of 600 millilitres of soft drink aged at the same rate (4.6 years) as those of a cigarette smoker.

These results were consistent across all races, ages, and income levels, with diet sodas and juices being found to not to produce the same effect.

While this research has not concluded that sugary soft drinks directly cause telomeres to shorten, the association between the two is strong enough that it lends yet another reason why sugary soft drinks should be removed from our diets entirely. 

Read more at Refinery29.

Amelia Theodorakis
Amelia Theodorakis
A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.
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