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Study Links Cola to Bone Loss in Women

Researchers Found Lower Bone Density Among Regular Drinkers of Cola Soft Drinks
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WebMD Health News

Oct. 6, 2006 -- Women who are concerned about thinning bones may want to limit the number of colas they drink.

Researchers found that drinking cola soft drinks on a regular basis was associated with lower bone mineral density in the hip.

Lower bone density can lead to osteoporosis, which, in turn, can cause bone fractures. Complications from hip fractures are a common cause of disability -- and even death -- in women as they age.

The association was not seen in men, and it was not seen in women who regularly drank noncola soft drinks.

Drinking three or more cola soft drinks a day was associated with lower bone density. Results were similar for diet colas. However, the potentially harmful effect was less for decaffeinated cola.

"Caffeine may explain part of this, but it doesn't explain it all," researcher Katherine L. Tucker, PhD, of Boston's Tufts University, tells WebMD.

"This association was strong, and it persisted even when we controlled for everything that we could think of that might influence risk, including calcium and vitamin D intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical activity."

Find Out How To Fight Bone LossFind Out How To Fight Bone Loss

Cola Drinkers Also Drank Milk

Approximately 55% of Americans, mostly women, are at risk for the brittle and thinning bone disease known as osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Bones naturally become thinner with age, and women are four times as likely as men to develop osteoporosis.

In addition to having a family history of osteoporosis, getting little exercise, being extremely thin, getting too little calcium and vitamin D, and smoking all contribute to risk. More than one alcoholic drink a day also increases a woman's risk of osteoporosis.

Earlier studies have linked cola consumption to bone loss, but doctors thought this was because cola drinkers drank less milk, which is high in bone-building nutrients.

Tucker and colleagues did not find this to be the case among women in their study. However, women who regularly drank colas did have overall lower calcium intake, possibly due to eating less.

Researchers examined data derived from 1,413 women and 1,125 men.

The men reported drinking an average of six carbonated drinks a week, with five being cola. The women reported drinking five carbonated drinks, four of which were cola.

Cola consumption did not appear to affect bone mineral density among men, but the more colas the women drank, the lower their bone mineral density.

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