(Graphic by Brett Ferrin and Autumn Mariano)
(Graphic by Brett Ferrin and Autumn Mariano)

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health by researchers from the University of California, San Fransisco on Oct. 16, 2014 revealed that the consumption of sugary soda drinks might promote disease that is associated with cellular aging.

More than 5,300 participants, ages 20 to 65, were sampled from across the U.S.  On average, the participants drank 12 ounces of soda daily and  21 percent reported drinking 20 ounces of soda daily.

The protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells, called telomeres, were shorter in the white blood cells of the participants who reported to drink more soda.

Typically the length of the telomeres within the white blood cells are associated with human lifespan. Chronic diseases of aging, which include heart disease, diabetes and several types of cancer have been associated with short telomeres.

Telomere length shortens on average with age. Researchers have calculated that a daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging.  This effect is comparable to the effect of smoking on cellular aging.

Elissa Epel, Ph.D. and professor of psychiatry at UCSF reported that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development by straining the body’s metabolic control of the sugar and accelerated cellular aging of tissues.

Epel is also involved in a study where the length of the telomere will be tracked for weeks to look for the real-time effects of sugar-sweetened soda on aspects of cellular aging.

Regular exercise has the opposite effect, according to UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung, Sc.D.

Legislatures and activists in several jurisdictions in the U.S. have begun to campaign for the taxation of sugar-sweetened drinks in hopes of discouraging the consumption and improving the health of the general public.

Information compiled from Sciencedaily.com

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