Oct. 6, 2006— -- Too many cans of cola might mean bad news for your bones.
Some women drink diet cola to help keep the weight off, but a new study suggests that drinking diet, regular and decaffeinated cola can actually lower bone density and put women at increased risk for osteoporosis.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, roughly 55 percent of Americans, mostly women, are at risk of developing the brittle-bone disease, which leaves bones dry, weak, and more likely to fracture.
Cola drinks -- such as Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola -- seem to increase that risk, according to research published in today's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University looked at data from 2,500 men and women who were part of the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. The average age of those studied was just under 60.
The scientists compared how much cola and other sodas people drank to bone mineral density measurements taken from the spine and from three different spots on the hips.
"The more cola that women drank, the lower their bone mineral density was," said Katherine Tucker, study author and director of the Epidemiology and Dietary Assessment Program at Tufts University, in a press release.
Women who drank more cola had reduced bone mineral density at all three hip sites but not at the spine. The link between cola consumption and women's bone loss was unaffected by age, menopausal status, cigarettes, alcohol, or total calcium and vitamin D intake.
Cola consumption did not affect men in the same way. Also, other carbonated drinks were not associated with bone loss.
Previous studies suggested that women who drank more cola had reduced bone density because the cola replaced milk in their diets, meaning the women got less calcium. But in this study, the women who drank the most cola still drank enough milk. However, women who drank cola had less calcium in their diet overall, so that lack of calcium could explain the finding here. Researchers said they'll continue to study the link between cola consumption and bone loss.