Are fizzy drinks bad for the bones?

Are fizzy drinks bad for the bones?

Eston Dunn Special For eFitness

Women drink a lot of fizzy drinks may be putting themselves at risk for developing brittle bones as they grow older, according to the results of a new study. While experts have suspected a link between soft drinks and reduced bone density, researchers from Tufts University believe that the phosphoric acid found in cola drinks may be the cause.

In the study, they compared the bone mineral density results of more than 2,500 adult men and women to self-reported soft-drink consumption patterns. They found that women who drank more than three 330ml servings (the volume of a regular can) of cola per day had 2.3 percent to 5.1 percent lower bone mineral density in the hip than woman who drank less than one serving of cola per day. The same pattern, however, was not seen in men, nor did non-cola drinks appear to have the same effect.

Researchers have yet to identify exactly why phosphoric acid has a negative effect on bone. Some believe that excess phosphoric acid attaches itself to calcium and prevents it from being absorbed, or that it may adversely affect parathyroid hormone levels in the body (which regulate bone density).

Others, however, are doubtful that the level of phosphoric acid in cola drinks is high enough to adversely affect bone mineral density. Instead, it may be that women forgo milk in favour of soda as they get older, thereby reducing their intake of calcium. Lead researchers do not believe this to be the case in their studies, explaining that they "did not find that people drinking cola beverages drank less milk than other people." So, why do men appear to be immune from the bone-leaching effects of cola drinks? Researchers suggest that men have different beverage consumption patterns and, in particular, tend to drink more beer than women, which may have a protective effect on bone due to its silicone content.

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