Here’s another reason you need to get that sweet tooth under control: it’s slowly killing you. Fructose consumption (table sugar and high fructose corn syrup as opposed to what naturally occurs in fruit) is on the rise. What is interesting to researchers is that this rise mirrors the rise in chronic degenerative diseases and accelerated aging as today’s excerpt explains.

Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging.

The study revealed that telomeres – the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells – were shorter in the white blood cells of survey participants who reported drinking more soda. The findings were reported online Oct. 16 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The length of telomeres within white blood cells – where it can most easily be measured – has previously been associated with human lifespan. Short telomeres also have been associated with the development of chronic diseases of aging, including heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues,” said Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UCSF and senior author of the study.

“This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness,” Epel said. “This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset.  Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

Source: “Sugared Soda Consumption, Cell Aging Associated in New Study.” By Jeffrey Norris.