Health

Four Alarming Side Effects Of Drinking Soda

These frightening consequences will have you pouring that Big Gulp down the sink lickety split

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Do you (like I used to) crack open a can of soda as you wake up? Do you stop at the drive-thru on your way to work to pick up the first of many super-sized, fizz-filled buckets of brown liquid that you'll savor throughout the day? Do you eschew Starbuck's for an ice-cold can of caffeinated carbonation? If so, welcome to the not-so-wonderful world of soda addiction.

Now, that we've established this, I'm here to tell you that it's time to stop. Soda is nasty. It is bad for you in so many ways. And it's not solely because it's nutritionally void or chock full of sugar (or aspartame), Rodale News has come up with 9 totally gnarly things imbibing this stuff does to your insides and, as someone who used to have a 12 can -- plus a couple of 42 oz. cups -- a day habit, after reading this list, I'm beyond stoked to have given it up cold turkey 4 year, 3 months and 17 days ago. (I may be off the stuff but that doesn't mean I don't miss it -- a lot.)

READ: Best Diets For Women: 8 Must-Eat Superfoods

Here are four of the most horrifying findings:

1. Researchers in Denmark have found that drinking regular, sugar-filled soda "leads to dramatic increases in fat build up around your liver and skeletal muscles, both of which can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. People who enjoy these sweetened beverages also have an 11 percent increase in cholesterol levels over folks who don't.

2. Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center kept tabs on 475 adults for an entire decade, and discovered that "those who drank diet soda had a 70 percent increase in waist circumference" over the course of the study. Participants who drank two diet sodas every day experienced a 500 percent increase.

3. Mountain Dew is famous for having twice as much caffeine as do other soft drinks. It also contains an ingredient called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, that's a chemical used "as a flame retardant in plastics." While it's not only found in Dew -- several sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas -- BVO is "known to cause memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities. Researchers also suspect that, like brominated flame retardants used in furniture foam, the chemical builds up in body fat, possibly causing behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on heart muscles over time."

READ: 5 Sneaky Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health and Beauty (and How to Prevent Them)

4. The coloring used to make pop caramel colored have been linked to causing cancer in animals. "According to California's strict Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, just 16 micrograms per person per day of 4-methylimidazole is enough to pose a cancer threat, and most popular brown colas, both diet and regular, contain 200 micrograms per 20-ounce bottle."

If, despite having read these warnings, you still have a hankering for your favorite soft drink, maybe the other 5 reasons will persuade you otherwise.

Take it from someone who's been there, giving up the pop is much harder in theory than it is in practice. Except for maybe you order a burger and fries. Then again, there's always beer ...
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