New research published in the British Medical Journal suggests a new cause of OA. They claim soft drink intake increases the progression of OA in men.
I have always thought these drinks are full of sugar additives and are of little nutritional benefit but now they have been shown to actually increase the progression of osteoarthritis, in men at least.
This is a good piece of research on an important cause of OA with over 2000 subjects and was conducted over 4 years. This will give good statistical data.
They also used X-rays to chart the progression of the OA. This is important as the severity of symptoms rarely correlate with the amount of wear so someone with mild OA may report far higher pain then someone who looks like their knee is ready for replacement on X-ray. You need to measure something objective rather than subjective to get good data.
They also made adjustments for body mass index and other factors that may have influenced the results.
This was their results and conclusion:
RESULTS: In stratified analyses by gender, we observed a significant dose–response relationship between baseline soft drink intake and adjusted mean change of JSW in men. With increasing levels of soft drink intake (none, ≤1, 2–4 and ≥5 times/week), the mean decreases of JSW were 0.31, 0.39, 0.34 and 0.60 mm, respectively. When we further stratified by obesity, a stronger dose–response relationship was found in non-obese men. In obese men, only the highest soft drink level (≥5 times/week) was associated with increased change in JSW compared with no use. In women, no significant association was observed.
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that frequent consumption of soft drinks may be associated with increased OA progression in men. Replication of these novel findings in other studies demonstrating the reduction in soft drink consumption leads to delay in OA progression is needed.
So Why Are Soft Drinks a Cause of OA?
The research does not go into the whys and being honest I am not sure why it should actually make it worse. Nor am I sure why men would be affected while women don’t appear to be.
As I said before these drinks are of no nutritional benefit and I can understand why they may affect the digestive system (my husband uses cheap supermarket coke to get rid of oil stains on our concrete drive so imagine what that does to your gut!). However why they should affect the cartilage I can’t even hazard a guess to the biochemical pathway for that one.
With the advent of information like this it is important we take a good look at our children’s diet. This type of research may also give another clue why people are being affected by osteoarthritis at a younger and younger age. Not only are many kids now obese which increase their risk but also the skinny boys appear to be at risk by what they are drinking.
The more and more we get away from eating a natural, healthy diet the greater our risks. Soft drinks are just about as artificial as you get so I suppose it shouldn’t really surprise us that they can be a cause of OA.
Please leave your comments below to let me know what you think….