According to a recent research, drinking cola can lead to brittle bones in women. Regardless of the sugar content, the more of the carbonated drink women consumed, the weaker were their bones.
Hence, women concerned with development of osteoporosis are advised not to drink too much of cola. The phosphoric acid, present in cola and not in several other fizzy drinks, is assumed to be responsible for the problem.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It was conducted on over 2,500 men and women of the age nearly 60 in Boston.
On an average, women consumed at least 4 cola drinks a week and men 5 servings labeled as a glass or a can. To evaluate the risk of osteoporosis, the researchers measured bone density of each person in the hip and spine.
According to the results, in men, there was no significant effect. However, in women, excessive cola consumption had resulted in lower bone mineral density in the hips, without taking into consideration their age, total calcium intake or use of cigarettes and alcohol. 5% lower bone mineral density was observed in women who drank cola every day than those who drank it rarely. The effects were the same for both full-sugar and diet forms of cola.
The specific ingredient in cola responsible for this problem has not been identified in this study, however, the researchers assume that phosphoric acid in cola may cause calcium to be excreted from the body.
A full-sugar cola can has 44-62 mg of phosphoric acid per 12 ounce serving whereas a diet cola has 27-39 mg.
Lead researcher Dr Katherine Tucker of Tufts University in Boston said: "The more cola that women drank the lower their bone mineral density was.
"However we did not see an association with bone mineral density loss for women who drank carbonated beverages that were not cola."
Dr Tucker said, "Some other studies have suggested cola could be linked to bone density loss because it replaces milk in the diet.
But this study disproved it as those who had lots of cola and those who rarely drank it consumed equal amounts of milk.
She said, "It is not entirely clear why cola reduced bone mineral density. "
Further studies are needed to confirm and explore her findings.
She said, "Women who fancy the odd can of cola need not worry.
"There is no concrete evidence that an occasional cola will harm the bones," she said.
"However, women concerned about osteoporosis may want to steer away from frequent consumption of cola until further studies are conducted."
A spokeswoman for the National Osteoporosis Society said: "What's interesting about this study is that most of the women did seem to be getting a good intake of calcium from other food sources, yet their bone density was affected by drinking as little as four cans of colas a week, which isn't much.
"This study obviously adds to our knowledge but it also makes it clear its results are not definitive and further research is needed.
"However, perhaps women need to think about just how much cola they are drinking and consider mixing their soft drinks.
"Couple this with a healthy, calcium rich diet and taking plenty of weight bearing exercise and they are doing the best they can for their bones."
Approximately 3 million people in the UK suffer from osteoporosis and 50% of women above the age of 50 will suffer a fracture due to this problem. Reduction in bone density due to loss of bone cells leads to the development of osteoporosis. An early menopause, lack of calcium in the diet and eating disorders, increases the risk of developing this ailment. And now, excessive consumption of cola has also become a risk factor.