Heavy soda consumption tied to higher fracture risk after menopause

(Reuters Health) -

A woman holds a drink while using her mobile phone on a hot summer day in Central Park, Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 01, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

Older women who drink more soda may be more likely to suffer hip fractures than their counterparts who consume little to no soda, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data on soda 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 our results, low or regular levels of soda consumption would not increase the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women,” said Dr. Pedro Kremer, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University.

“However, after a certain amount -the equivalent of two cans per day- the risk would be significantly higher,” Kremer said by email.

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.

Soda and other carbonated beverages have been linked to lower bone mineral density in some previous studies, researchers note in Menopause. But results have been mixed and prior studies haven’t offered a clear picture of whether sodas are a particular problem.

In the current study, researchers didn’t find a connection between lower levels of soda consumption and fracture risk. The increased risk was only present when women consumed more than two sodas daily.

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.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how heavy soda consumption might directly cause fractures.

One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on soda consumption throughout the entire follow-up period, and it’s possible that this might have impacted fracture risk, the study team notes. Also, they weren’t able to distinguish between consumption of diet soda and sugar-sweetened soda.

More research is also needed to examine the impact of sugar and other sweeteners in soda on fracture risk, researchers point out.

Even so, cutting back on soda may have health benefits and be one of several modifiable risk factors that women can control to minimize their risk of fractures, Kremer said.

“It is important to avoid behaviors that could raise the chances (of fractures) even more, like sedentarism, certain medications, tobacco, and unbalanced diets,” Kremer said. “Drinking high amounts of sodas should probably be added to that list of behaviors, as an additional measure to avoid increased chances of hip fractures.”

SOURCE: Menopause, online October 14, 2019.