It's called "pop" in the Midwest and most of Canada. It's "soda" in the Northeast. And it goes by a well-known brand name in much of the South.
People across North America use different words to identify a sugary, carbonated soft drink. But however they say it, they're talking about something that can cause serious oral health problems.
Soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities.
Sugar-free drinks, which account for only 14 percent of all soft drink consumption, are less harmful. However, they are acidic and potentially can still cause problems.
We're Drinking More and More
Soft drink consumption in the United States has increased dramatically across all demographic groups, especially among children and teenagers. The problem is so severe that health authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have begun sounding the alarm about the dangers.
How many school age children drink soft drinks? Estimates range from one in two to more than four in five consuming at least one soft drink a day. At least one in five kids consumes a minimum of four servings a day. Some teenagers drink as many as 12 soft drinks a day.
Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink had grown to up to 20 ounces by the 1990s.
Children and adolescents aren't the only people at risk. Long-term consumption of soft drinks has a cumulative effect on tooth enamel. As people live longer, more will be likely to experience problems.
What to Do
Children, adolescents and adults can all benefit from reducing the number of soft drinks they consume....
Cancer of the pancreas, the small organ producing insulin, is relatively rare but packs a deadly wallop: The five-year survival rate is only 5% and the disease progresses quickly in most individuals, primarily because it lacks symptoms until it is an advanced disease.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have now found a statistically significant link between soft drink consumption and pancreatic cancer in a large population (over 60,000 people) in Singapore that was followed for fourteen years.
The study is reported on line in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, published by the American Association for Cancer Research.
Among 140 people in the study who developed pancreatic cancer, those who drank two or more soft drinks per week had an 87% greater likelihood of developing the disease than those who didn’t drink sodas. Although the study did not distinguish between diet and regular drinks, the majority of soft drinks sold in Singapore are non-diet and thus high in sugar.
The study was led by Dr. Mark Pereira, who said he believes the findings will likely apply generally to affluent western countries.
"Soft drink consumption in Singapore was associated with several other adverse health behaviors such as smoking and red meat intake” said Dr. Susan Mayne of the Yale Cancer Center at Yale University in Connecticut.
Previous studies have indeed linked pancreatic cancer and others to red meat, especially burned or charred meat.
Sugar or Insulin?
Dr. Pereira, the study’s leader, believes the soft drink association works via the increased levels of insulin the body produces in response to high sugar intake. Insulin is known to act as a growth factor for many normal and cancer cells, and raised insulin levels have been particularly associated with higher rates of colon cancer in multiple studies.
Dr. Pereira also notes that his study did take into account smoking and overall diet.
1. Phosphoric acid is a clear, colorless, odorless liquid with a syrupy consistency.
2. Phosphoric acid is used as an acidifying agent to give colas their tangy flavor.
3. Due to the use of phosphoric acid, cola is a actually more acid than lemon juice or vinegar. The vast amount of sugar acts to mask and balance the acidity.
4. Phosphoric acid also goes by E338, orthophosphoric acid, and phosphoric(V) acid.
5. Food-grade phosphoric acid is a mass-produced chemical, available cheaply and in large quantities.
6. Phosphoric acid is commonly used for rust removal.
7. Phosphorus-containing substances occur naturally (0.1%-0.5%) in foods such as milk, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and egg yolks.
8. Phosphoric acid has been linked to lower bone density in some epidemiological studies, including a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
9. Opposing studies showed the opposite – that *low* intake of phosphorus leads to lower bone density. Guess who funded the studies? PepsiCo.
10. Aside from the risk of osteoporosis, Cola consumption has also been linked to chronic kidney disease and kidney stones.
11. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer watchdog group not affiliated with the food industry, only a small fraction of the phosphate in the American diet comes from additives in soft drinks. Most comes from meat and dairy products.