Older women who drink more soft drinks may be more likely to suffer hip fractures than their peers who consume little to no sugary drinks, a recent study findings from the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University suggests.
Researchers examined data on soft drink consumption, bone health and fractures for more than 70,000 women who were 69 years old on average. Half the women were tracked for at least 12 years. Overall, 2,578 hip fractures occurred during follow-up.
When the researchers looked at consumption of carbonated beverages, they found that women who drank an average of more than 14 12-ounce servings a week were 26% more likely to experience a hip fracture during the study period than women who never had soda. And women who had more than 14 servings a week of caffeine-free soda were 32% more likely to experience hip fractures.
Based on the results, low levels of soft drink consumption would not increase the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women. But after the equivalent of two 355 ml (12 ounce) cans per day, the risk is significantly higher.
The risk with heavy soda consumption persisted even after researchers accounted for other factors that can impact bone health and fracture risk like use of osteoporosis medications, diabetes, coffee intake, income, exercise levels, and maternal hip fracture history.
During menopause and afterward, the body slows production of new bone tissue and women can face an increased risk of osteoporosis. When bones become more porous and brittle, women have an increased risk of fractures.
Sodas and other carbonated beverages have been linked to lower bone mineral density in some previous studies. But results have been mixed and prior studies haven’t offered a clear picture of whether soft drinks are a particular problem.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how heavy soda consumption might directly cause fractures.
The researchers lacked data on soft drink consumption throughout the entire follow-up period, and it’s possible that this might have impacted fracture risk. Also, they weren’t able to distinguish between consumption of diet soda and sugar-sweetened soda.
Even so, the researchers noted that drinking high amounts of sodas should probably be considered an additional measure to avoid increased risk of hip fractures.
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