We all love cracking open a cold can of Coke (or Pepsi, if you prefer) every now and then, but is our soft drink habit hurting our health? The idea of soda being bad for us is nothing new. We’ve known for a long time that it’s not exactly nutritious and it adds inches to your waistline. At best, it’s just delicious sugary water. With that said, most people probably have no idea just how bad it really is for their health. Thanks to a recent study, we now know that frequent soft drink consumption can actually lead to a shorter life expectancy. Yikes!
How Soft Drinks Lead To A Shorter Life Expectancy
Scientists with the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France conducted one of the largest studies ever done on the link between soft drink consumption and health, and what they found was truly alarming.
Looking at more than 451,000 subjects throughout 10 European countries over the course of 16 years, researchers determined that frequent soft drink consumption cut a significant number of years off life expectancy. They found that individuals who had more than two soft drinks per day had a much higher risk of dying early compared to individuals who drank one or two soft drinks per month.
You may initially think that this shortened life expectancy would be due to the excessive amount of sugar in soft drinks, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The study found that participants who drank diet sodas – with no sugar or sugar substitutes – were just as likely to die early than those who drank traditional sodas. So what is it about soft drinks that is causing a shortened life expectancy?
Since both sugar-sweetened sodas and artificially-sweetened sodas both led to shortened life span, the direct link between soft drinks and early death could not exactly be determined. For individuals who drank traditional sugar-sweetened soft drinks, they were more likely to gain excessive weight or develop diabetes – both things that would lead to a shortened life span.
As for those who drank artificially-sweetened soft drinks, it is possible that they also fell victim to things like weight gain and diabetes. This could be because when an individual drinks diet soda, they compensate for those calories elsewhere by overeating. For example, some individuals feel that they are making a healthy choice by drinking diet soda, which gives them the go-ahead to “cheat” in other areas of their diet. Ultimately, they end up gaining just as much – if not more – weight than those who drink traditional soft drinks with sugar.
What complicates the study’s results further is that it found early death from soft drinks was not just associated with weight gain and diabetes. Participants who frequently consumed soft drinks were more likely to die of other health issues, as well. They found that participants who drank at least one soda per day were more likely to die or Parkinson’s Disease, circulatory diseases, digestive disorders, or colon cancer. The link between soft drinks and any of these health concerns is unclear.
All in all, even without the direct link being known, it is evident that drinking soft drinks daily can have a serious negative impact on your health. If you find yourself hooked to the bubbly beverage, you may want to opt for a sparkling water instead! If it’s the caffeine that you can’t kick, you’re ultimately better off drinking a cup of coffee than a can of Coke!