Surprising link between sugared soda & aging

Sugary soft drinks is often associated with a high risk of obesity, metabolic disorder, diabetes, cardiovascular death, and certain types of cancer but a new research suggests that it can also reduce the  lifespan of an individual. UC San Francisco researchers in a new study revealed that drinking sugary drinks is associated with cell aging. Drinking of sugar-sweetened soda can promote disease independently besides increasing weight. The findings of the study were reported online on October 16, 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health.

What are telomeres?

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The study revealsthat regular soda drinkers have shorter telomeres in their immune system. Telomeres are the protective units of DNA that cover the ends of the chromosomes in the cells. The length of the telomeres in the white cells has been measured with the life span of the person. Short telomeres are associated with some chronic diseases that are age related like heart diseases, diabetes and some types of cancer. Regular drinking of sugar –sweetened soda can cause diseases by straining the metabolism of sugar in the body and also by increasing the speed of cellular aging of the tissues in the body.

Study on telomeres shortening

Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UCSF says that this is the first time when such a study related to shortness of telomeres has taken place by renowned scientists.The studies had no relation with age, race, education or income of the person. It was found that the shortening of the telomeres starts much before the start of the disease.  Study of Telomereshortening was conducted only on adults, but it is quite possible that there could be telomere shortening by drinking sugared soda in children as well.

Earlier Telomere shortening was associated with oxidative damage to tissue, to inflammation, and to insulin resistance. At present the length of the telomeres and sweetened soda was conducted on each person only once.  But a new study will soon track for weeks, the effects of sweetened soda on areas of cellular aging.

On the basis of the way telomere length shortens on an average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was linked with 4.6 years of aging

All participants in the survey conducted by UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung were given 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened coda. It was revealed that the consumption of sugared soda was the only beverage that had a negative influence on the length of the telomeres. It was difficult to understand both dietary factors that can shorten telomeres, as well as those thatcan lengthen telomeres. A new consideration was added to the list that sugary beverages were linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases and type to diabetes. Tax was added by several US jurisdictionson the purchase of several sugar-sweetened beverageswith an aim to discouragingits consumption and to help in improving public health.

Earlier in 2002 researchers measured the telomeres  collected from the DNA of  a number of people without any history of heart disease or heart problem between the age of 20- 65. They found that the amount of sugar-sweetened soda taken by a person consumed was associated withthe telomere length.

Conclusion—the dangers of carbonised drinks were known earlier and now this new study reveals that regular intake of sugar sweetened soda can lead to premature aging of the immune cells. This can be the cause of certain chronic diseases in the same manner as smoking and drinking. It can also reduce the span of life of an individual.

 Study Authors– There were several other study authors from UCSF, Centre for Health and Community, the University of Michigan, and from Stanford who participated in the study. Major funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health.It is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions.  The medical schools under UCSF include graduate schools in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. There are other research centers and hospitals under UCSF