The link between fizzy drinks and your bones, as well as other risks for osteoporosis
Carbonated drinks are a staple in our society. But how healthy is all the fizz? In addition to its negative effects your teeth and waistline, studies also show a negative association between carbonated drinks and your bones, which may lead to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become brittle and weak. Oftentimes, bones become so brittle that a slight fall or large cough is enough to cause a fracture. Because there are often no warning signs in the early stage of bone loss, it’s important to know what causes osteoporosis and if you’re at risk.
Carbonated drinks and your bones: how harmful is it?
Studies show a link between high soda intake and risk of fractures. However, what experts aren’t sure of is what causes that link.
One idea is that phosphoric acid, which is a major component in many sodas, causes bone loss. While phosphorus by itself isn’t bad for bones, consuming it in a disproportionate amount to calcium consumption can be harmful.
Second, experts have cited caffeine as a culprit. Although both caffeinated and non-caffeinated colas are linked to lower bone density, the link with caffeinated drinks is more extreme.
Finally, research shows a stronger link to low bone density from drinking cola-based drinks rather than other soft drinks or carbonated waters. Furthermore, a Tufts University study shows that women who drink three or more cola drinks a day had 4% lower bone density in their hips.
Even with this research, many experts are still skeptical about the direct link between drinking carbonated drinks and your bones. Instead, many believe that men and women who drink carbonated drinks have lower bone density because they choose to drink soda over other calcium-rich drinks, such as milk or orange juice.
Because drinking large amounts of soda has been associated with other health risks, we recommend limiting your daily intake. This looks different for everyone. If you drink three cans a day, try cutting down to one. If you drink one can a day, try cutting back to three times a week.
Next time you’re thirsty, consider reaching for a drink full of calcium rather than fizz. Additionally, know these risk factors and lifestyle choices that contribute to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors and Tips to Boost Bone Health
- Gender: Women have a greater risk of osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue than men.
- Race and family history: Caucasians and people of Asian descent are at the greatest risk of getting osteoporosis. The same is true if you have a parents or siblings with osteoporosis or a family history of bone fractures.
- Calcium intake: Low-calcium diets contribute to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. Calcium supplements are vital if you have a low-calcium diet or suffer from dietary issues like lactose intolerance.
- Activity level: Physically inactive people have a higher risk of osteoporosis than active people. Make sure you are getting regular exercise to help your bones stay healthy and strong.
- Tobacco use: Research links tobacco use to weak bones. This is just one of the countless reasons to quit smoking.
- Alcohol consumption: Regular intake of more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis. Why? Possibly because alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
- Size: If you’re extremely thin or have a small body frame, you may have less bone to lose over time. Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
- Drug use: Long-term use of certain medications, like corticosteroids, may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Hormone levels: In women, bone loss dramatically increases due to menopause because of dropping estrogen levels. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass. An excess amount of thyroid hormone can also cause bone loss.
- Eating disorders and other conditions: People who have conditions like anorexia or bulimia are at a high risk of bone loss. Stomach surgery, weight loss surgery and conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease can also affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
To get an evaluation of your risk for osteoporosis, or if you want to know more about the link between carbonated drinks and your bones, make an appointment with a Mercy Health physician. Call 513-952-5000 or visit mercy.com to find a doctor near you today.