Although not that many foods have been directly linked to our nation’s ills, when it comes to sweetened soft drinks, the evidence is mounting.
A study by Harvard researchers found that people who consume sugary drinks regularly — 1 to 2 cans a day or more — have a 26 percent greater risk of developing diabetes than those who rarely drink them.
In addition, researchers involved with the Nurses’ Health Study tracked the soft drink consumption of 90,000 women for nine years.
The women who had one or more servings a day of a sugar-sweetened soft drink or fruit punch were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes during the study.
Sugary soft drinks may also promote aging in general.
In a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study last year, researchers found that telomeres — the protective parts of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes — were shorter in the white blood cells of study participants who reported drinking more sweetened soda.
Based on the way telomeres normally shorten with age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was equivalent to an average of 4.6 years of wear.
That effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking, they said.
The length of telomeres in white blood cells — where they can most easily be measured — has previously been associated with human lifespan.
Short telomeres also have been associated with the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Posts by Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
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