While soda has already been linked to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, the average American still consumes at least 2 sweet carbonated drinks every day. A study from the University Of California, San Francisco found direct links between the consumption of sweetened carbonated beverages and premature cellular aging.
The authors of the research, Elissa Epel, Ph.D. and Cindy Leung, Ph.D., decided to test the effects of sugared soda on the aging process. The researchers tested a group of people who consumed 12-20 ounces of soda or more on a daily basis, and measured the length of their telomere (the ends of chromosomes, which protect them from deterioration) and found that, when compared to the control group, their telomeres were significantly shorter. A short telomere is an indicator of upcoming disease onset and has been linked to the development of cancer and cellular aging.
The study tested the length of the telomere before and after regular consumption of soft drinks and found that they, indeed, cause significant shortening of the telomere. When put in numbers, the results are even more shocking: Daily consumption of 20 ounces of carbonated drinks was shown to cause 4.6 years of cellular damage, meaning your body ages 4.6 years, only because you drink soda. Furthermore, telomere shortening has been associated with insulin resistance, oxidative damage to the tissues, and inflammation.
The 5,309 participants, all aged between 20-65, came from different backgrounds, lived different lifestyles, and were of various races and ethnicities, yet the results were similar for all. Furthermore, the research found that it is likely that this kind of cellular damage can occur in children.