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We often use soda’s links with obesity and cardiovascular and endocrine diseases to support claims on its negative effects on health. Sweetened beverages’ high glucose and fructose content can cause an increase in fat deposition in the blood vessels and other areas of the body, impair glucose uptake by the cells, and increase insulin resistance. These are all excellent reasons to avoid drinking the sugary drinks but their popularity is still enormous. Even with research suggesting time and time and again how soda is bad for you, the CDC reports that sodas are more popular than ever, with popularity increasing over the past thirty years. 
Newer studies on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB)
Sodas are typically flavored with a form of sugar, like high-fructose corn syrup which has been linked to a variety of diseases that affect the heart, lungs, and nervous system . It is important to remember that HCFS, despite being called corn syrup, is not naturally-occurring – it is manufactured. Products may hide the fact that they contain HCFS and be touted as “organic” – so be vigilant!
One of the most relevant studies on SSBs was published in December 2014, focusing on another aspect of soda intake and how it affects a person’s health. It focused on linking SSB intake with telomere length. Telomeres are the ends of a human chromosome, associated with genetic health and life longevity. According to the 2014 study, consumption of SSBs is linked to shorter telomere length, which suggests a shorter lifespan and higher risk for genetic health risks. When telomeres are shorter, cells age faster and become more prone to wear and tear – this increases a person’s risk for disease, whether communicable or non-communicable.
The study also found an association between consumption of 100 percent pure fruit juice and longer telomeres, completely opposite results from SSB consumption. Longer telomeres are associated with positive health effects – longer life spans and better immunity against diseases. Diet sodas or sugar-free drinks had no observable effect or association with telomere length.
Included in this study were adults aged 20 to 65 years old, whose soda-drinking habits were monitored from 1999 to 2000. In fact, more than half of the total number of participants (which totaled 5,000 people) drank soda regularly, at least once a day, which makes it a very worrying habit that has wormed its way into our lives. While the study focused on healthy individuals, or people free from diabetes or heart problems, those who consumed sodas regularly still have shorter telomeres than those who didn’t. 
These results bring new light to a previously one-sided view on sodas and SSBs. We have focused so much on the nutritional aspect of consuming SSBs and not enough on the other ways they may be affecting our health. As health sciences continue to develop, newer research methods and a new way of looking at things offer us more opportunities to better our lifestyle choices.
 CDC. Consumption of Sugar Drinks in the United States, 2005-2008. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db71.htm
 Stanhope, K., et. al. (2015). A dose-response study of consuming high-fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverages on lipid/lipoprotein risk factors for cardiovascular disease in young adults. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25904601
 Hsu, T., et. al. (2015). Effects of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup consumption on spatial memory function and hippocampal neuroinflammation in adolescent rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25242636
 DeChristopher, L., Uribarri, J., & Tucker, K. (2015). Intake of high fructose corn syrup sweetened soft drinks is associated with prevalent chronic bronchitis in U.S. Adults, ages 20-55 y. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26474970
 Cawthon, R., et. al. (2003). Association between telomere length in blood and mortality in people aged 60 years or older. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673603123847
 Leung, C., et. al. (2014). Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302151
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