Your health: Soda may age you as much as smoking

  • Sugary sodas may speed up your aging process, a new study shows.

    Sugary sodas may speed up your aging process, a new study shows. AP Photo

Posted10/27/2014 5:45 AM

Soda may age you as much as smoking

You knew that drinking sugary sodas could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks -- but, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, it may also speed up your body's aging process, The Washington Post reports.


As you age, caps on the end your chromosomes called telomeres shrink. In the past several years, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, have analyzed stored DNA from more than 5,300 healthy Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from some 14 years ago. And they discovered that those who drank more pop tended to have shorter telomeres.

The shorter the telomere, the harder it is for a cell to regenerate -- and so, the body ages.

"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," said psychiatry professor Elissa Epel, senior author of the study.

According to the research, drinking a 20-ounce bubbly beverage every day is linked to 4.6 years of additional aging. You get the same effect by smoking, said UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung, lead author of the study.

Things that could shorten your life

Here are some surprising things that could shorten your life, from Robert Palmer, CEO of PotentiaMED:

Not drinking enough water: We all know that water makes you look good and feel good, but Palmer says, "Drinking water is key when it comes to flushing out your body. It's one of the most important ways to keep your kidneys and your prostate functioning properly."

Being a night owl: Research has shown that people who work the night shift have myriad health risks. One surprising risk factor for breast cancer is working the night shift., Palmer says. Doctors theorize it could be the stress, lack of sleep, or simply an off-kilter circadian rhythm.

Not having kids: Maybe hard to believe. "People often think that stressing about their children gives them gray hairs and takes years off their life, but actually it's the other way around," Palmer says. "People with children live longer, healthier lives."

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