advertisement
20 May 2009

Fizzy drinks damage muscles

A steady, litres-per-day diet of colas can cause serious muscle problems, doctors warned in a study.

0

A steady, litres-per-day diet of colas can cause serious muscle problems, doctors warned in a study.

A review of clinical cases showed that super-sized doses of soft drinks loaded with processed sugars and caffeine can cause potassium levels in the blood to plummet, giving rise to a condition known as hypokalaemia.

Small changes in potassium levels can profoundly effect the functioning of the body's cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. Typical symptoms of hypokalaemia are decreased muscle strength, cramping, palpitations and nausea.

In more extreme cases, potassium deficiency can lead to heart trouble and profound paralysis.

Too much cola can damage muscles
"We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before, and a number of health issues have already been identified," including tooth decay, loss of bone mass, and diabetes, said Moses Elisaf, a doctor at the University of Ioannina in Greece and main architect of the study.

"Excessive cola consumption can also lead to hypokalaemia, causing an adverse effect on vital muscle functions," he said.

The study reviewed cases studies in which patients drank two to nine litres of soda beverages per day, including two pregnant women admitted to hospital with dangerously low potassium levels. One of the women complained of fatigue, appetite loss and vomiting, while the other - who had been drinking up to seven litres of cola per day over the previous 10 months - suffered from muscular weakness.

Both patients made a rapid and full recovery after they stopped drinking cola and took oral or intravenous potassium, reported the study, to be published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

Caffeine intoxication also a problem
The study suggests that hypokalaemia can be caused by excessive consumption of three of the most common ingredients in cola-type drinks - glucose, fructose and caffeine.

"The individual role of each of these ingredients in the pathophysiology of cola-induced hypokalaemia has not been determined, and may vary in different patients," said Elisaf. "However in most of the cases we looked at, caffeine intoxication was thought to play the most important role," he added.

In a commentary, published in the same journal, Clifford Packer from the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Centre in Ohio said doctors should take note.

"Cola drinks need to be added to the physician's checklist of drugs and substances that can cause hypokalaemia," he said.

In 2007, worldwide annual consumption of soft drinks reached 552 billion litres, the equivalent of 83 litres per person per year, according to the study. That figure is expected to climb to 95 litres per day by 2012. – (Sapa, May 2009)

Read more:
Daily fizzy drink bad for kidneys
Diet drinks up diabetes risk

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Dangerous winter sun »

Why female students ignore the risks of indoor tanning Can rooibos protect you from the effects of UVB exposure?

Skin cancer always a risk – even in winter

During winter, the risk of skin cancer doesn’t disappear. CyberDoc talks to us about when to see your doctor about a strange-looking mole or spot.

Did you know? »

The 5 saltiest foods may surprise you Craving salt? Your genes may be the reason

10 fascinating facts about salt

The one thing that fast foods, whether it be chips, hamburgers, pretzels or fried chicken have in common, is loads of salt.