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Frequent consumption of sugary drinks causes premature cell aging, study suggests

Frequent consumption of sugary soda drinks leads to the premature ageing of cells, according to a new study by scientists from The University of California-San Francisco.
The researchers, who published their findings in The American Journal of Public Health, discovered that people who drink large amounts of soda tend to have shorter telomeres (protective DNA on the end of cell chromosomes) in their white blood cells. Previous research has found a relationship between length of telomeres and lifespan. In addition, short telomeres have been linked to tissue damage, insulin resistance, and inflammation, as well as diseases generally thought to be affected by aging, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Sugary drinks have long been associated with a rise in obesity in the UK, with doctors demanding they be taxed in an effort to combat the issue.
Professor Elissa Epel, lead author of the study, explained that, “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.”
Effectively, the research suggests that, like smoking, sugary drinks increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the observed correlation does not necessarily mean causation. The study is also limited by the time frame in which telomere length and soda consumption was compared.
Professor Epel seeks to address these limitations in the future. The study will be developed by observing its participants over a longer period of time.

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