A soda a day can age you five years…

For many Americans, drinking sugary soda (or cola, “coke” or “pop,” depending where you live) is a habit simply too difficult to kick.

That’s even with the prominent dangers that come along with it like obesity, liver damage, increased risk of diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and dental damage. Not to mention soft drinks’ lack of nutrients and their addictive nature.

However, millions of devoted soda drinkers may finally find the motivation they need to help them quit.

That is, if they heed the findings from a recent study from the University of California at San Francisco.

These researchers found that habitual soda drinking may shorten your lifespan by an average of five years.

Specifically, this study discovered a change in people’s telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells.

Telomeres were shorter in the white blood cells of survey participants who reported drinking more soda.

That might not sound like a big deal, but consider this …

Telomere health is one of the most-prominent factors is predicting how long you will live and the quality of life you’ll experience.

Here’s what these experts wrote about how our bodies react to sugary drinks like sodas …

“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, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UCSF and senior author of the study.

“This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness,” Epel said. “This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

Based on the way telomere length shortens on average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers came up with a shocking calculation …

They estimate that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda is equivalent to an average of 4.6 years of telomere shortening.

The researchers of the study even said that drinking soda has equally detrimental effects on telomeres as smoking cigarettes.

A 20-ounce bottle of soda is less than two cans of any popular soft drink, an amount far too many people surpass daily.

If the evidence against eliminating or at least cutting back on soda wasn’t already enough, this is sure to increase awareness even more.

We would love to know from Uncommon Wisdom Daily readers your experience with limiting or eliminating soda from your diet, how you achieved it, and the effects this lifestyle change has made.

Please let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section below.

Happy and Healthy Investing,

Brad Hoppmann

Your thoughts on “A soda a day can age you five years…”

  1. i drink only sugar free, caffenine free ginger ale. never any sugar bearing drinks. my blood work numbers are great for 68 year old non-smoker. my a1c is 5.4.

    allen hardester

  2. We never drink sodas. Pure junk. I’m a little skeptical about the conclusions of the study (shortening your life by five years seems unlikely) but I agree completely with the idea of eliminating sodas. Try vegetable juices, fruit juices (in moderation), or purified water.

  3. I quite drinking sodas maybe 12 to 16 years ago. I always thought the soda with sugar was better than the diet (artificial sweetener) soda since past studies show the diet sodas don’t decrease–rather they increase–weight gain. Artificial sweeteners are bad for you and if I had to pick sugar or artificial sweeteners, I’d still pick sugar. I view soda (diet or regular) as a poison for all the reasons mentioned in your article. I figured it just killed you because it was overall systemically bad. Now we know it destroys your DNA too.

  4. How about diet soda? Same effect or is it specifically sugar that does the damage??

  5. I worked in a restraint where sodas were free for a few years. A friend once saw me heading to the break room with 4 cokes on a tray for myself. He explained these things were addicting. At first I thought he was crazy, so I tried to stop cold turkey. It WAS difficult,,,, but I stopped. Now, the only thing I drink is; milk, diet ice tea, and water ( often with apple cider vinegar in the water).

  6. i was drinking 3 litre’s of Diet Coke a day. 4 years ago I switched to water and my stomach got calmer. best thing I’ve done for myself in years.

  7. As far as i can tell from your article, the study does not select between potentially harmful chemicals in the soda, as well as sugar. Excess sugar use has long been regarded as harmful. In 1896, the average american consumer 9.6 lbs of sugar in a year, in 200 it was over 120 lbs. The point: there are other potentially harmful chemicals, nor just suger, in soda. It is not safe to assume that it’s just the suger which shortens the telomeres. Soda without sugar may well be just as garmful. DOC

  8. I never drank soda on a regular basis. As a kid, my allowance was $0.50 per week so I didn’t have the coin to regularly buy sodas or sweets – so they just never developed as a habit. Additionally, I had/have “soft teeth” and constantly developed cavities. The family dentist convinced me to quit all “sweets” to protect my teeth (and my parents’ finances). Thus, I’ve never felt the craze or developed an addiction to sodas, deserts, or any sweets; and while I do have an occasional soda or desert, they have never been a desire or regular habit in my 73 years. Further, at this point in my live, I just can’t be concerned whether my telomeres are shortened or not. Que’ sera, sera.

  9. I was born in 1936. I recall that, during the war and for 5 years after, my mother was really against drinking soda. She used to have a bottle of ice-water or chilled water in the refrigerator for us kids to drink and she never bought me Coke or Pepsi. Our neighbors tended to do the same. One had a jug of cold water for their kids and put some small grains of activated carbon in to make it even more pure and remove chlorine traces. It was a real treat to have a class of Canada Dry ginger ale once in a while or maybe a glass of lemon and lime soda at the pharmacy, along about 1946 or ’47. We rarely drank soda and it became a life-long habit. My health is excellent, I’m not over weight, have all my original teeth, don’t smoke and walk about 10 Km a day. Our doctor says my health is excellent and I can do anything. Must ask her to check my telomeres, maybe for free? (We live in Canada). My wife is a therapeutic dietitian who practiced at both “Sick Kids” Toronto and Roosevelt Hospital NYC, USA before she retired. She watched my diet too!

  10. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) has a huge position in Coke (KO) and swears by it. At 85 he drinks a lot of Coke. I never do and won’t invest in KO or Pepsico either. Same for Altria and tobacco stocks. Sooner or later these soda stocks are going to feel the truth close in on them; so avoid ’em like all sugary sodas at all costs!

  11. I was getting over weight even drinking diet soda. I started the Ideal Protein Protocol 7 yrs ago and had to stop drinking soda since it wasn’t allow on the diet. I lost 40 pounds in 3.5 months went form size 14 to size 5 and never went back on soda. I used to get so bloated I couldn’t stand it after a few days on the program I couldn’t have felt better. If it wasn’t for the diet I don’t know if I would have had the will to stop or would I have realized it was from the soda. I got so educated on the effects of just how “sugar” itself effects you, so I became a coach and have been helping overweight people stop drinking soda even diet.

  12. I have read in some ways diet soda is worse than regular soda. I’m not sure the exact science on that but it has something to do with your body being tricked into thinking it is having sugar, but not getting any, so it produces more on it’s own. Anyway my question is in relation to this study, did they delineate between regular soda and diet soda?

  13. Were these studies done with sugar sweetened soft drinks or soft drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup?
    It seems that that would make for significant differences in outcome.

  14. Hi Brad,

    My wife and I and son drink nothing but Zevia pop which we find to be much healthier to drink than soda pop

  15. It is almost as hard a ‘sell’ to convince people to quit drinking soda as it is for smoking or chewing tobacco. As a dental hygienist I am constantly trying to better the health of my patients so I would have you include the destruction of teeth and cost of dentistry in your appeal to the public to cease damaging behavior. On the other hand I’m sure smokers know that it will kill them and they are no more inclined to quit smoking so I hold little hope for getting soda drinkers to modify their behavior. I will never stop trying to encourage better choices but then I am a half full kind of person!

  16. This article was about ‘sugary’ sodas. Of the people I know who drink soda on a regular basis, the vast majority stick to diet soda. I am nearing 70 and rarely drink ANY soda because I don’t want all the empty calories in the non-diet kind and I am allergic to aspartame, which is the most common sweetener in diet soda. I also believe sucralose (Splenda) isn’t good for our health and have read that it breaks down in a fairly short time – which is one of the reasons Aspartame is still the sweetener of choice for soda companies. On the few occasions that I do have a soda (fewer than 1/2 dozen times a year) I go with the sugary type on the theory that the devil I know (sugar) is preferable to the devil I don’t, ie. the chemicals in artificial sweeteners. I do wish the article had talked about the effects of daily consumption of DIET soda, because many of the young adults I know drink 2 or more diet drinks every day and I’m concerned about the long-term impact on their health. I wonder what Aspartame does to our telemeres!

  17. Just wondering if telomeres are damaged if you drink diet, caffeine free sodas?

  18. It’s not clear whether the problems arise from soda alone or one of its components. I would suspect that sugar is the problem. What about drinking only diet soda?

  19. I’ve been drinking sodas continuously since I was a teen. I used to drink 5 or 6 a day, but now I’m steady at 2 in the morning and 1 after lunch. It used to be Dr Pepper, then I switched to Moutain Dew, then Diet Mountain Dew. The caffeine gives me a big mental boost which helps with my job, I’d be lost without it. I never liked coffee and I’ve tried various teas, but nothing else gives the same effect. I’m 60, in excellent health, never had a surgery, and my dentist says most young people would envy my teeth, which he says will easily last me til I’m 100. Which I fully expect to live to, my family typically lives to the late 90s and early 100s. I’m in the same physical condition as when I was 30, except for some minor back pain. I plan to work til I’m 70, so I have no plans to give up soda til then, I need the mental boost it provides. Maybe the soda is shortening my life, but I also have faith that science and medicine will continue advancing. I wouldn’t be surprised if 100 is the norm by the time I get there.

  20. I don’t believe it. It is just the mind set l love to drink and enjoy it many other elements influences your living

  21. I have never been a big soda consumer. Finding that saccharin and sugar make me feel worse rather than better, I gave up on sodas long ago. I read so many statements that soda is unhealthy I have no desire to drink it. The cost and container waste are also deterrents.

    However I would really like to know what it is about soda that shortens telemores. The effect probably isn’t confined to soda.

    Doni

  22. My wife Shirley and I at one time drank soda on a regular basis. We both are in our mid seventies. At some point it was always diet. I decided that due to an evaluation of High Fructose Corn Syrup and the danger of this product in soda and other drinks to give up drinking such products. I began reading all labels and find that almost all drinks contain Corn Syrup. Additionally we read labels on store purchased cookies and other foods and do not purchase anything that contain high fructose corn syrup. Yes! We did crave soda but just didn’t purchase and eventually no longer had the desire. We drink water, coffee, homemade lemonade, and homemade ice tea.

  23. So what are you supposed to drink. Beer? City water contaminated with lead, mercury, various bacteria and prescription medications? How about fruit juices? I’m getting a little tired of people telling me what I shouldn’t do. How about telling me what I should drink.

  24. I don’t have an answer to your question but I have a question about the same long term potential from drinking one drink of alcohol each day. Are there any studies conducted on the subject?

  25. Now you are a diet guru! Yup. Really, if you expect us to listen to you about money, you should do a lot more research before expounding on a longer healthier life. Your experts are barely right about telomeres. DNA health is simply part of cellular health and cellular function comes first. If you really want to know how to add twenty or thirty healthy years to your life begin with the C Cycle and the Q Cycle. Are all of the chemicals available to the cell? Are all of the cells in all of your body getting enough chemicals? And I’ll toss in a few special bones. First bone is that most of the required vitamins, enzymes, and co-enzymes are fat soluble. Second bone is that muscle cells can scavenge fat from all over your body to the detriment of non-muscle cells. To be fair, the key anti-ageing chemical has only been available commercially for the last twenty years and since it is a natural compound in our bodies few companies will go the mile with it. Imagine, $2 or $3 a day and you get a thirty year hall pass.

  26. What about the phosphoric acid in carbonated beverages such as most all sodas have. Does this not contribute to bone loss and tooth decay…?? Also helps to turn the body fluids acidic which contributes to cancer and other diseases…why no mention of that in your articles…. Diet sodas…..aspertame (nutra-sweet) wood alcohol based contributes to cancer also…..banned for many years by the FDA before being allowed under political pressure…
    How about more info on this in your articles…..Thanks..

  27. Hello there,

    I’ve read your article on the Soda subject, and I’d like to know how I can post it through my Facebook account. In my country (Guatemala) they need to read something like this, and hopefully educate themselves about the dangers on drinking this kind of “poison” like Pepsi…Coke, or any other soft drink loaded with sugars.

    Thank you,
    Sincerely,
    Estella

  28. I have averagerd over 8 cokes (actual coca-cola) a day for the last forty years. (many of those years the average was much higher than that) My blood sugar levels remain in the “Ideal” range. My triglicerides the same. My bmi is in the “Ideal” range for an 18 year old, even though I am almost sixty. I am around children and adults with all kinds of illnesses, but I haven’t missed a day of work for sickness in 34 years. Every body processes things differently. I know some things in general are healthier than others, however people who are claiming they know what everyone else should or should not eat have in general discredited themselves before they even speak.

  29. Big question: what about diet sodas? Clearly the sugar-heavy sodas can wreak havoc on the pancreas and make you gain weight which can shorten your lifespan, but diet sodas have zero sugar….what did the researchers find in this regard????

    1. Imitation sugars bring about their own sets of problems. We are reading that Stevia is the best way to go, and that supposedly pure sugars like Agave can be just as harmful as corn syrup. Personally I find I feel better and lose more weight when I avoid diet sodas; there’s a false sense of satisfying a sweet craving when in reality it makes me think I can have sweets all the time if they are “diet.”

  30. The safety of diet soda and low-calorie sweeteners is supported by regulatory agencies throughout the world, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as leading health groups, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Diabetes Association. We would also add that the ‘research’ regarding telomeres does not at all prove its bold and alarmist conclusion that soft drink intake accelerates aging, as discussed in detail here: http://slate.me/10yvm5I. In sum, diet soda is safe, and can be integrated into a healthy regimen: http://bit.ly/Ik4zjC.

  31. When l start to get one of my debilitating headaches l take a Bayer Body and Back 500 and have some diet Root Beer. Within twenty n minutes l am. almost well.
    If l just take am aspirin without the soda my headache goes on until the next day

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Brad Hoppmann originally grew up in Florida, but has lived in Baltimore, Charlotte and New York as well throughout his career. Always an athlete, he played varsity football and water polo at the University of Florida and received All-SEC/SCC honors.