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Drinking Soda Everyday Ages the Body by 4.6 Years

Update Date: Oct 20, 2014 01:35 PM EDT

Soda, which is packed with calories and sugar, can lead to several health conditions. In a new study, researchers examined the link between drinking soda and lifespan. They concluded that daily soda consumption could age the body by 4.6 years.

The research team from the University of California, San Francisco studied the DNA of more than 5,300 adults between the ages of 20 and 65. The adults were considered healthy and did not have a history of diabetes or heart disease. The adults had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) more than a decade ago and their health was not monitored over the years. The researchers analyzed the length of their telomeres, which are the caps located at the end of the chromosomes. As people age, the telomeres start to shrink.

The team discovered that people who drank more soda tended to have shorter telomeres. More specifically, adults that consumed one 20-ounce soda per day aged 4.6 years faster. The effect on aging caused by soda was similar to the effects caused by smoking.

"We think we can get away with drinking lots of soda as long as we are not gaining weight, but this suggests that there is an invisible pathway that leads to accelerated aging, regardless of weight," psychiatry professor Elissa Epel, senior author of the study, told CBS San Francisco.

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

The researchers noted that they only found a correlation and not a cause and effect relationship. They also did not find any links between drinking diet sodas or fruit juices and telomere length. The team believes that using more recent data could uncover links between sugary beverages in general and cell aging.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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