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Put down the can of soda because your favorite carbonated beverage can prematurely age your cells. 

Are you a big soda drinker? Do you enjoy a bubbly glass every once in a while? Everyone knows how dangerous smoking is to your health and that it can prematurely age your cells. 

But now, new studies suggest your favorite carbonated beverage could be just as detrimental to your cells as a cigarette and drinking soda in excess goes way beyond obesity. If you drink a 20-ounce soda daily, you could be aging your cells without even realizing it.

Researchers looked at DNA from 5,309 adults, focusing on telomeres, the caps on the ends of our cells' chromosomes. They found that drinking sugary soda was associated with shorter telomeres. Telomere length may be linked to life span, according to a University of California-San Francisco report. These shorter telomeres are also linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

If you drink a daily 20-ounce soda it can cause an extra 4.6 years of aging—the same figure seen in smokers. 21 percent of people in the study said they drank 20 ounces a day and the average intake was 12 ounces. 

Diet soda and fruit juice have some effects on telomeres too.

While "100% fruit juice was marginally associated with longer telomeres," researchers said, "sugar-sweetened beverages weren't associated with telomere length."

So, it turns out that drinking soda goes way beyond obesity

"The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism," says one of the authors of the study.

How much soda do you drink? Will you cut out soda after reading the results of this study? 

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