Even soda lovers know that drinking too much soda is bad for the health. If you’re in the habit of drinking a lot of soda, you may become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems and a host of other ailments.
Now new findings from an Australian study suggest that drinking soda regularly might raise the risk for respiratory problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study was published in the Feb. 7 issue of the journal Respirology.
This seems an odd relationship, since soft drinks aren’t processed by your lungs when you drink them, but rather by your digestive system. But study authors say one reason may be that soda is linked to an increased risk for obesity, which in turn raises risk for asthma and COPD.
Certainly, the study didn’t prove cause-and-effect, only a correlation between the amounts of soda drank regularly and the chances of acquiring the respiratory ailments. That’s why some experts think many other unhealthy factors contribute to the raised risk.
For the study, Australian researchers surveyed nearly 17,000 people, 16 years and older, about their soft drink habits. They found that one in 10 of the Australians they surveyed drank more than a half liter of soda—or more than two cups—a day.
Drinks included in the study were Coke, lemonade, flavored mineral water, Powerade, Gatorade, and all other types of soda.
The researchers found a “dose-response relationship” between soda-drinking and risk for asthma and COPD. Or simply put, the more sugary drinks people consume, the higher their risk for these respiratory ailments.
“The amount of soft drink consumption is associated with an increased chance of asthma and/or COPD. There exists a dose-response relationship, which means the more soft drink one consumes, the higher the chance of having these diseases,” the researchers conclude.
In total of 13.3 percent of those studied who had asthma and 15.6 percent of those suffering with COPD said they drank more than half a liter of such drinks every day.
“Our study emphasizes the importance of healthy eating and drinking in the prevention of chronic diseases like asthma and COPD,” says Dr. Zumin Shi, lead study author and research fellow at the University of Adelaide in Australia, in a news release.
Commenting on the study, the director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center at New Haven, Connecticut notes, “high soda intake is a good marker for poor overall diet, and poor overall attention to health.”
“It likely suggests greater exposure to everything from tobacco smoke to air pollution,” Dr. David Katz, the center’s director, explains.
Sugary drinks are bad for you
This isn’t the first study to tie the drinking of soft drinks to health risks.
A 2010 study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that daily drinkers of one to two sodas were 25 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and 20 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome — a precursor to diabetes — than were people who drank one or fewer beverages per month.
Daily drinkers of other sugar-sweetened beverages like vitamin water, energy drinks, iced tea and fruit drinks also had the same risks, the study showed.