Cell aging caused by sugar sweetened beverages.

telomeresSugary sweetened beverages are linked to cell aging. researchers have determined that soda drinkers have telomeres that are shorter than their non soda drinking peers.

Telomeres are protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells. Telomere length has been associated with certain disease conditions where short telomeres have been associated with the development of of aging, including heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

The study consisted of measuring telomeres after obtaining stored DNA from 5,309 participants, ages 20 to 65, with no history of diabetes or .

“Regular 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, PhD, 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 is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

Telomere shortening, through environmental stressors, has been associated with oxidative damage to tissue, to , and to insulin resistance. The University of California researchers calculated that daily of a 20-ounce soda was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging.

“It is critical to understand both that may shorten telomeres, as well as that may lengthen telomeres,” Cindy Leung, senior co-, said. “Here it appeared that the only beverage that had a measurable negative association with telomere length was of sugared soda.”


Cindy W. Leung, Barbara A. Laraia, Belinda L. Needham, David H. Rehkopf, Nancy E. Adler, Jue Lin, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Elissa S. Epel. Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Examination Surveys. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302151

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