If you love soft drinks but have switched to diet versions because of health fears, well, put down that diet drink — now! A new study found that a single can of diet soda a day increases the risk of heart disease by 43 percent and can cause liver damage similar to that seen in alcoholics.
More than 92 side effects are associated with aspartame, a sugar substitute used in diet sodas. They include brain tumors, emotional disorders, and epileptic seizures.
It’s obvious that as a nation, we are addicted to soft drinks. Consumption is approaching a quart each day for every man, woman, and child, according to the National Soft Drink Association. And it’s taking a tremendous toll on our health. The most obvious effect, in the opinion of many experts, is the soaring rate of obesity.
The latest research, conducted the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center, is only the latest in a long string of studies showing that carbonated soft drinks — both sugar-sweetened and sugar-free — are ruining our health.
Health problems linked to soft drinks include:
• Obesity. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that every can or bottle of soft drink a person drinks each day increases their risk of being overweight by 41 percent. Children are at special risk: A British study found that if fructose is present in a child’s body, it will cause more cells to mature into belly fat cells when the child’s fat cells mature.
High-fructose corn syrup seems to be more at fault for weight gain than regular sugar: Researchers at Princeton University found that rats who were fed high-fructose corn syrup gained 47 percent more weight than rats who were fed an equal number of calories, but without corn syrup. And switching from sugar-sweetened to diet soft drinks doesn’t provide protection from weight gain, either. The researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that people who drink diet soft drinks don’t lose weight; they gain. Their risk of obesity was even higher than those who drank sugary sodas.
• Diabetes. Women who drink one sugary soda a day double their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes when compare with women who drank less than one a month, suggests a study from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. And research from the Framingham Heart Study found that drinking one or more sodas a day, whether regular or diet, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors which increases the odds of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Rutgers researchers point the finger at high-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient in most sugar-sweetened sodas, believing it may initiate a series of events in the body that leads to diabetes.
• Pancreatic cancer: Drinking two or more soft drinks a week almost doubles the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to people who do not drink them. Senior author Mark Pereira and colleagues followed 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years. They found that those who consumed two or more soft drinks per week (averaging five per week) had an 87 percent increased risk compared with individuals who did not drink sodas. The researchers found no link between fruit juice consumption and pancreatic cancer. “The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth,” said Pereira.
• Premature aging. The phosphates in colas and other soft drinks that give them their tangy bite can cause premature aging, according to researchers at Harvard University who found that sodas upset the balance of phosphate in the body and accelerate aging by causing skin and muscles to shrivel. They also damage the heart and kidneys. “Soda is the caffeine delivery vehicle of choice for millions of people worldwide, but comes with phosphorous as a passenger,” said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, editor in chief of the FASEB Journal. “This research suggests that our phosphorous balance influences the aging process, so don’t tip it.”
• Osteoporosis. Phosphoric acid, which give drinks their “bite,” leaches calcium from bones, and diet sodas are just as much at fault as those sweetened with sugar. Researchers at Walter Reed Medical Center found that diet sodas drain both calcium and phosphorous from the bones of healthy women, putting them at risk for osteoporosis. And several studies have found a strong association between bone fractures and the amount of colas consumed by teen girls.
• Dental problems. In addition to the increased risk of cavities by the sugar in soft drinks, phosphoric acid — present in all “fizzy” drinks — causes tooth enamel to erode by changing the pH of saliva, leaving yellow teeth that are more prone to decay. Dr. Judith Valentine told the Weston A. Price Foundation that dentists from all over the country were reporting teen patients whose front teeth had been completely eroded by the acids in sodas.
• Fertility. Danish researchers found that men who were heavy cola drinkers — a quart or more a day — lowered their sperm counts by 30 percent when compared to those men who didn’t drink cola. And a study funded by the European Union found that just one diet cola a day increased the risk of miscarriage by 38 percent. Moms who drank four or more colas a day raised their risk by up to 78 percent.
• Esophageal cancer. When sodium benzoate, used for mold prevention in many soft drinks, is mixed with vitamin C, it creates a carcinogenic substance called benzene. Researchers at India’s Tata Memorial Hospital found a “very significant correlation” between soft drinks and an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
• Kidney stones. The same phosphate that rots teeth and leaches calcium from the body has been proposed as a contributing factor in the formation of kidney stones. And a study published in the journal Epidemiology found that drinking two or more colas daily — regular or artificially sweetened — doubled the risk of chronic kidney disease.
• GI problems. Studies have shown that people who drink sodas suffer more from gastroesophageal reflux disease than those people who didn’t drink sodas. Sodas boost acid levels and often require medication. Sodas also cause other gastrointestinal problems. “Sodas contain an array of chemical acids as additives, such as acetic, fumaric, gluconic, and phosphoric acids, all of them synthetically produced,” Dr. Judith Valentine told the Global Healing Center. “Drinking sodas, especially on an empty stomach, can upset the fragile acid-alkaline balance of the stomach and other gastric linings, creating a continuous acid environment. This prolonged acid environment can lead to inflammation of the stomach and duodenal lining which becomes quite painful. Over the long term, it can lead to gastric lining erosion.”
• Cholesterol. A study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, found that people who drank one or more soft drinks each day were 25 percent more likely to develop high blood triglycerides (a type of fat linked to cardiovascular disease), and 32 percent more likely to have low levels of “good” cholesterol.
• Gout. Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Harvard Medical School in Boston found that men who consumed the highest levels of fructose, which is found in large amounts in sugar-sweetened cola, more than doubled their chances of getting gout.
• High blood pressure. Researchers from the University of Colorado in Denver found that drinking the equivalent of 2.5 soft drinks a day increased the risk of having a systolic blood pressure reading of 160 or higher by 77 percent. Another study of volunteers who consumed 74 grams of fructose daily, the equivalent amount found in four soft drinks, showed that a third of them had borderline high blood pressure, and 8 percent had hypertension, even though none had experienced blood pressure problems.
• Brain disorders. More than 92 side effects are associated with aspartame, a sugar substitute used in diet sodas. They include brain tumors, emotional disorders, and epileptic seizures. In addition, sodium benzoate has the ability to switch off vital parts of a person’s DNA, according to research from a British university. The result could eventually cause cirrhosis of the liver and other degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s. A study at Georgia State University found that a diet high in fructose impaired the memory of rats.
• Liver damage. An Israeli study found that people who drink more than four cups of sweetened beverages a day increase their odds of developing fatty liver disease by 500 percent. According to researchers, fructose is the culprit. Fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Original Article: Ditch Colas and Other Soft Drinks Now