Women warned to stop drinking cola to avoid brittle bones
Natural Matters Comment: Clear evidence of the health risks of the fizzy drinks so widely consumed today, it's startling that there should even be any debate as to whether young children should be exposed to these products in schools. Scientists advise that those worried about osteoporosis should steer clear, it would be more to the point to suggest that all women, at all times should avoid this health hazard!
Women should steer clear of cola if they want to avoid suffering brittle bones, new research suggests.
Scientists found the more of the fizzy drink women consumed - whether it was full-sugar or diet - the weaker their bones were.
They therefore advised women who are worried about developing osteoporosis to avoid drinking too much cola.
It is thought the problem may be due to phosphoric acid which is found in cola, but not in many other fizzy drinks.
An estimated three million Britons suffer from osteoporosis and half of women over 50 will suffer a fracture because of the condition.
Osteoporosis develops as more bone cells are lost that are replaced and this reduces the overall density of the bones.
An early menopause, lack of calcium in the diet and eating disorders can all increase the chance of someone developing osteoporosis.
Now American scientists have found that drinking lots of cola may also significantly reduce bone density and so raise the risk of the condition.
The study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (must keep), involved more than 2,500 men and women aged around 60 in Boston.
Typically women were drinking at least four cola drinks a week and men five servings, defined as a can or glass.
The research team also measured bone density of each person in the hip and spine to assess their risk of osteoporosis.
They found for men there was no real effect of having lots of cola.
But among women, those who drank cola had lower bone mineral density in the hips, regardless of their age, total calcium intake or use of cigarettes and alcohol.
Typically those who drank it every day had a bone mineral density that was 5 per cent lower than women who rarely had cola.
Similar effect were seen for both full-sugar and diet forms of cola.
The researchers did not work out specifically what in cola was to blame, however other studies have suggested that phosphoric acid, which is found in the drink, may cause calcium to be excreted from the body.
A typical can of cola contains 44 to 62 mg of phosphoric acid per 12 ounce serving, and diet cola contains 27 to 39 mg.
However very few other fizzy drinks contain the substance.
Lead researcher Dr Katherine Tucker of Tufts University in Boston said: "The more cola that women drank the lower their bone mineral density was.
"However we did not see an association with bone mineral density loss for women who drank carbonated beverages that were not cola."
Dr Tucker said some other studies have suggested cola could be linked to bone density loss because it replaces milk in the diet.
However her research found that was not the case, since those who had lots of cola and those who rarely drank it consumed equal amounts of milk.
She said it was not entirely clear why cola reduced bone mineral density and called for more studies to confirm and explore her findings.
She also said women who fancy the odd can of cola need not worry.
"There is no concrete evidence that an occasional cola will harm the bones," she said.
"However, women concerned about osteoporosis may want to steer away from frequent consumption of cola until further studies are conducted."
A spokeswoman for the National Osteoporosis Society said: "What's interesting about this study is that most of the women did seem to be getting a good intake of calcium from other food sources, yet their bone density was affected by drinking as little as four cans of colas a week, which isn't much. "This study obviously adds to our knowledge but it also makes it clear its results are not definitive and further research is needed.
"However, perhaps women need to think about just how much cola they are drinking and consider mixing their soft drinks.
"Couple this with a healthy, calcium rich diet and taking plenty of weight bearing exercise and they are doing the best they can for their bones."
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