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7-Up your cellular age

Recent research links drinking sugar-sweetened beverages with faster cellular aging.

The fountain of youth does not run with Mountain Dew. Recent research suggests that soda drinkers experience 4.6 years of additional aging.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, studied more than 5,300 people and found that folks who chugged eight ounces of sugar-sweetened soda each day had DNA changes typical of cells 1.9 years old, while those who drank a 20-ounce bottle daily experienced what corresponded to 4.6 years of additional aging. The DNA changes were evident in the subjects’ telomeres, the protective DNA at the end of cell chromosomes that buffer white blood cells. The more soda consumed, the shorter the telomeres.

The effect of the soda on the DNA is comparable to the effect of smoking, the study’s lead author, UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung, ScD, said in a university release. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health and noted on

“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,” Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UCSF and senior author of the study, said in the release.

The researchers drew their data from DNA stored from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the nation’s largest ongoing health survey. The 5,309 subjects were aged 20 to 65, and had no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Earlier this month, voters in Berkeley, Calif., passed the nation’s first tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

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