Why Soda May Make You Age Faster

Soda and sugary beverages have been scrutinized for quite some time. Medical News Today reports that heavy consumption of these kinds of drinks can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even increase the risk for kidney and liver disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that the high sugar content is the culprit — it's what makes soda so unhealthy and there are at least 15 different kinds of sugar ingredients that can be found in soda.

If you choose diet- and sugar-free soda, you aren't exactly in the clear, as these drinks also pose health risks due to their artificial sweetener ingredients. According to Healthline, multiple servings of diet soda can cause tooth decay, stomach upset, headaches, and may be associated with more serious medical conditions.

However, a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found another scary side-effect linked to regular soda consumption that may tip the scale in favor of diet soda, if you're forced to choose between the two.

Drinking soda regularly may age you as fast as smoking does

The study, which was conducted at the University of California San Francisco, found a significant link between soda consumption and accelerated aging among more than 5,000 relatively healthy individuals between 20-65 years old. Food & Wine reports that the aging is due to the connection between shorter telomeres, which are a part of the chromosomes in our cells, and people who consume regular soda. The study explains that shorter telomeres are also associated with abbreviated lifespans, increased stress, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer (via Time).

The data collected shows that drinking an 8-ounce glass of soda daily is equivalent to 1.9 years of additional aging, and drinking 20-ounces is equivalent to 4.6 years of aging, which happens to be the same effect found between short telomeres and smoking. "The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism," senior study author Elissa Epel told Food & Wine.