Carbonated Cola Drinks Drop Bone Density in Women

October 6, 2006

BOSTON -- Quaffing Coke, Pepsi, and their carbonated cola cousins, including decaf and diet versions, is associated with lower bone mineral density in older women, researchers here reported.

BOSTON, Oct. 6 -- Quaffing Coke, Pepsi, and their carbonated cola cousins, including decaf and diet versions, is associated with lower bone mineral density in older women, researchers reported.

The findings from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study did not extend to men or to non-cola carbonated beverages, and the reasons for bone loss remain uncertain, according to a report in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Several studies have examined the association between carbonated beverages and fractures in children and adolescent girls, but few have studied adults, said Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., of Tufts University here, and colleagues.

Because bone mineral density is strongly linked with fracture risk, and because cola is a popular beverage, these findings are of considerable public health importance, Dr. Tucker and colleagues wrote. Although occasional use of carbonate cola beverages is unlikely to be harmful, she said, "women who are concerned about osteoporosis may want to avoid the regular use of cola beverages."

In the Framingham study, which included 1,413 women (ages 29 to 83) and 1,125 men (ages 35 to 86), bone mineral density was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry at the spine and three hip sites.

Both men and women tended to be overweight, former smokers, and to consume alcohol moderately. Mean calcium intake for men and women was lower than the current recommendations. Of the women, 80% were postmenopausal, and 29% of these used estrogen.

Mean intake of carbonated beverages was six servings a week (one glass, bottle, or can) for the men and five servings for the women. Cola was the most common choice at almost five servings for men and four for women. Women were equally likely to consume caffeinated and non-caffeinated cola, but were more likely to drink diet cola (2.7 diet compared with 0.9 non-diet servings a week), although intakes were variable. Non-cola soft drinks were either sugared or diet products.

Non-cola carbonated-beverage intake did not decrease BMI in either men or women, the researchers reported.

However, cola intake had a significant effect on BMD. Cola drinks were associated with significantly lower (P