Coca-Cola could be killing you. That's according to a team of UCSF researchers, who have found evidence that regular consumption of sugary sodas is associated with a shortened life span. In the medical field, this would be known as a bad thing. Technically speaking.
The group tracked a sample of 5,309 adults in the United States, aged 20 to 65 years, asking them to count their beverage consumption and comparing that data with the length of individuals' telomeres, a chromosomal sequence that mirrors the body's aging. The shorter the telomeres, the shorter one's lifespan and the greater one's chances of developing chronic diseases. Those people who had consumed a 20-ounce sugared soda daily (which 21% of the study's participants did) were found to have aged an additional 4.6 biological years over those who did not. That effect was found independent of sugar-sweetened soda's effects on obesity. The study found no association between aging and the consumption of artificially sweetened sodas or non-carbonated beverages like fruit juice.
“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues,” said Elissa Epel, the study's lead author, in a statement. The study used telomere length data that had been collected by the laboratory of Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009 for her work on aging.
Efforts to tax sodas and other sugary beverages to reduce consumption are on the ballots this November in San Francisco and Berkeley. We can't imagine the study will come up at all during debates about those. Nope, not a chance.