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Study: Cola Linked to Lower Bone Density in Women

Study: Cola Linked to Lower Bone Density in WomenA new study by Tufts researchers shows that drinking cola regularly may lead to lower bone mineral density in older women.

Boston [10.20.06] New research by scientists at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging shows that women who drink cola regularly may be at an increased risk for osteoporosis. The epidemiological study, which was published in the October issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and received media attention around the world, found that drinking diet, regular and decaffeinated colas can lead to lower bone mineral density in women over the age of 60.

“The more cola women drank, the lower their bone mineral density was,” Katherine Tucker—a senior scientist at the HNRCA and lead author of the study—told United Press International.

Low bone mineral density puts women at an increased risk for osteoporosis, a “brittle-bone disease, which leaves bones dry, weak and more likely to fracture,” according to ABC News Online,

Researchers examined bone mineral density of more than 2,500 male and female participants in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. According to the BBC, the study—which looked at three different areas of the hip, as well as the spine—showed no association between cola intake and lower bone mineral density in men. Cola consumption—and its frequency—had a clear impact on women, however.

“Women who drink cola daily had lower bone mineral density than those who drink it only once a week,” Tucker, who directs the Dietary Assessment and Epidemiology Research Program at the HNRCA, told HealthDay News. The New York Times reported that this was the case, regardless of “age, body mass index, physical activity, alcohol intake and other factors.”

The difference in bone density between women who didn’t drink cola and those who did was nearly four percent, according to HealthDay News. “This is quite significant when you are talking about the density of the skeleton,” Tucker explained to the publication.

Cola’s contents—namely phosphoric acid and caffeine —may partially explain the findings, “especially when it’s not balanced by calcium-rich food,” explained U.S.News & World Report. Phosphoric acid, Tucker explained to HealthDay News, can leech calcium from bones, while “caffeine is known to be associated with the risk of lower bone mineral density.” But the Tufts scientist pointed out that with decaffeinated colas, “we found the same thing.”

Because of cola’s popularity, Reuters Health noted that the new study “is of considerable public health importance.”

She told The New York Times that more research in this area is needed, but said that women who are worried about osteoporosis should start taking steps now.

“Our study is just one epidemiological finding, and it doesn’t prove causation,” Tucker told the Times. But she pointed out that “women who are concerned about osteoporosis should avoid drinking cola regularly.”

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