Party drinks linked to lung disease

Last updated 12:54 22/12/2011
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FIZZY FEAR: Sugar heavy drinks are bad for not only your teeth, experts say.

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There's sobering news for drinkers this Christmas, and that includes people who do not drink alcohol.

Heavy consumption of soft drinks, as well as eroding teeth, has also been linked to asthma and serious lung disease, research has found.

An Australian study has found that consumption of high levels of soft drink is positively associated with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults consuming more than half a litre per day.

The survey of 16,900 people found people drinking more than half a litre of soft drink a day had significantly increased chances of having asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), causing blockages to the airways.

The University of Adelaide researchers said the mechanisms linking soft drinks with these respiratory problems remained unclear but one hypothesis was that the high sugar in soft drinks made the airways more vulnerable to allergic inflammation. Another possibility was an allergic reaction to the preservatives in soft drinks.

''This is the first large population study showing an association between soft drink consumption in relation to asthma/COPD,'' the research team said.

The Australian Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association are reminding people about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption over the holidays.

AMA president Steve Hambleton said sugary foods and drinks provided excess calories and were bad for teeth.

''Sugary foods and drinks are nice to have occasionally, but it's important to remember only to consume them on special occasions, and not to include them as part of your regular diet,'' he said.

Australian Dental Association president Shane Fryer said a 600-millilitre bottle of soft drink could contain up to 13 teaspoons of sugar. ''Consumption of these drinks should be limited, but drinking water is the best option.''

Water may also be a better option for those who routinely turn to alcohol to brace themselves for a Christmas gathering.

The beyondblue group, established to combat depression, has cautioned people who drink alcohol to overcome anxiety, that they risk longer-term problems including addiction and increased risk of suicide.

A director of beyondblue, Associate Professor Michael Baigent, said a survey this year had revealed that many men, who may unknowingly be experiencing an anxiety disorder, are likely to drink alcohol to boost their confidence when they go out. Such social phobia disorders were likely to affect one in 10 people during their lifetime.

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''Some people ... can only face social situations if they take drugs or alcohol,'' said Professor Baigent. ''If people drink alcohol to give themselves Dutch courage, some are likely to develop drinking problems.''

- Sydney Morning Herald


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