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When Mayor Bloomberg announced he was banning big sodas from the NYC area, people passionately protested their right to bubbly drinks in big quantities. But maybe the mayor was on to something. Soda doesn’t just cause cavities and add extra calories to your diet.
Scientists have found that the sugary (and even non-sugary) substances change your body’s basic chemistry and can lead to increased risks for heart attack, stroke and cancer.
We’ve gathered the scariest findings from recent soda studies:
- Soda increases your risk of heart attack. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, published March 2012 in the journal Circulation, found that drinking just one sugary beverage a day was associated with a 20 per cent increase in a man’s risk of having a heart attack over a 22-year period.
- Sugar drinks change your metabolism. A researcher at Bangor University in England kept track of 11 healthy men and women as they drank a Super Gulp’s worth of sugary drink (about 140 grams of sugar) every day for four weeks. In the study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition in June of 2012, researchers found that their metabolism changed after the four weeks, making it more difficult for them to burn fat and lose weight.
- Soda has possible carcinogens. An independent study commissioned by the centre for Science in the Public Interest in 2012 uncovered 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MI, in Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. The compound is used in the brown colouring in these sodas, and has been shown to sicken animals. The study found levels of this compound were higher than the maximum limit allowed (without a warning label) in food in California,.
- Even diet soda can be bad. Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found a link between older adults who drank diet soda daily and a 44 per cent higher chance of heart attack and stroke.
- Soda could make you lose your mind. Scientists discovered BVO, a preservative and flame-retardant for plastic, in citrus sodas like Mountain Dew. The substance can cause nerve disorders and memory loss. A case report from 1997 explained a case of poisoning, possibly from drinking 2 to 4 litres of cola containing BVO a day.
- Soda is linked to asthma. In a study published in Respirology in January 2012, researchers in Australia studied 16,907 people aged 16 and over in South Australia for two years. They found an association between a heightened risk for asthma and other breathing conditions and drinking more than half a liter soda every day.
- Soda builds fat deposits all over your body. A Danish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February of 2012 followed a group of obese and overweight people for six months, as they either drank a liter per day of soda, or instead drank milk containing the same amount of calories, water or diet cola. They found that the group consuming sugary drinks ended up with a higher amount of fat in the liver and muscles than other groups. This kind of fat is bad because it can lead to heart disease later.
- Soda consumption is associated with teen violence. In a 2011 study of Boston high school kids, published in the journal Injury Prevention, researchers saw that the more soft drinks teens drank, the more likely they were to be involved in violent acts, like pushing, shoving and getting into fights, according to a Harvard study, even when other factors like home and family life were removed.
- Soda makes you gain a ton of weight. In 2011, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science centre announced results at the American Diabetes Association meeting, from a study of older adults across 10 years. They saw that any diet soda intake (compared to those with no diet soda intake) was linked to a 70 per cent waistline increase over a decade; those who drank two diet sodas a day were linked to even larger weight gain — a 500 per cent waist expansion.
- Soda could shorten your lifespan. The high levels of phosphorus in dark cola have some researchers concerned it could shorten lifespan. In one study, published in the FASEB Journal in 2010, the mice with high phosphorus levels in their blood had shortened lifespans by an about a quarter.
- Most soda cans contain BPA. The epoxy resin called BPA used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal in cans. The substance is found in tons of plastic and metal containers and researchers are worried that it can interfere with human hormones. In studies, it has been linked to infertility, obesity and some cancers.
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