Drinking Cola bad for women's bones

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If the latest research is to be believed women who drink cola on a regular basis are putting themselves at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

The researchers from Tufts University in Boston, say they have found that drinking cola was linked with low bone mineral density in women, regardless of their age or calcium intake.

Professor Katherine Tucker, director of the Epidemiology and Dietary Assessment Program at the University and her colleagues conducted a study of 2,500 people which compared information from dietary questionnaires with bone mineral density measurements at the spine and three different hip sites.

In the study group the men reported drinking an average of five cola drinks a week, and women four cola drinks a week.

Osteoporosis means "porous bones" and such bones are far more likely to fracture.

The research team found that cola consumption was linked to lower bone mineral density in all three hip sites in women, although not in the spine, but was not associated with bone mineral density in men.

Bone mineral density loss for women was not however linked to other carbonated drinks.

Previous studies have also suggested a link between cola consumption and poor bone health but that was at the time attributed to the fact that women who drank the most cola also drank less milk because the cola replaced the milk in their diet.

This study goes some way to dispel this particular myth and the researchers advise women, particularly those concerned about osteoporosis, to limit their intake of cola to the occasional one.

Osteoporosis affects as many as 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of people 50 years of age and older.

In the U.S., 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease, eight million of which are women.

Another 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.

Over a million women in the UK have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, and many more may have the condition.

The researchers did find however that the calcium intake from all sources, including non-dairy sources such as dark leafy greens or beans, was lower for women who drank the most cola.

Professor Tucker and the team suggest an ingredient in cola called phosphoric acid might be responsible for the link, because phosphoric acid creates an acidic environment in the blood and calcium is then taken out of the bones to balance that out, but she says more studies are needed.

Experts note the findings but advise that eating a healthy diet with adequate amounts of calcium-rich foods, taking regular weight-bearing exercise, stopping smoking, and reducing consumption of alcohol, all help to keep bones healthy.

The research is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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