Drinking fizzy drinks daily ages you as much as smoking

Downing a fizzy drink on a daily basis will age you as much as if you smoked with the same frequency, TreeHugger has reported.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, drinking a sugar-sweetened 20-ounce / 567g bottle ages you as much as smoking, adding almost two years onto the life of human cells.

The study looked at the data of 5,309 US adults between the ages of 20 and 65 with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, between the years 1999-2002. The cells of soda-drinking participants were compared with those of participants who did not consume fizzy beverages.

The drinkers consumed an average of 12 ounces / 340g per day, but 21% of these participants consumed at least 20 ounces per day – that’s a medium-sized bottle of Coca-Cola in the UK.

So how does this affect ageing? Well, the more fizzy drinks a person puts into their body, the shorter their telomeres become. And what is a telomere? I hear you ask. A telomere is a sort of ‘cap’ of repetitive DNA on the end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration.

They naturally deteriorate and shorten as we get older, but there are certain patterns of behaviour – like smoking – which can cause this to happen prematurely.

Mary Oaklander, who reports on health news for Time, wrote about the worrying results:

‘Drinking an 8-ounce daily serving of soda corresponded to 1.9 years of additional ageing, and drinking a daily 20-ounce serving was linked to 4.6 more years of ageing. The effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking.’

However, senior study author Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco, reported that she had found no association between diet versions of fizzy drinks and telomere length.

‘The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,’ she told Time.

Coca‑Cola contains 10.6g of sugar per 100ml – so that’s 35g per 330ml can. Diet Coke and Coke Zeo both contain no sugar, and instead use artificial sweeteners for taste.



Main image: milena mihaylova at Flickrcc

Sadie Hale