For men with osteoarthritis of the knee, soft drinks drive a hard health bargain.
According to a new study conducted by researchers for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, soda consumption relates strongly to an elevated progression of the condition.
"Our main finding is that, in general, the more sugary soda men drink, the greater the risk that knee osteoarthritis will get worse," said Bing Lu, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate biostatistician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, to WebMD News.
Lu and the rest of the report’s cohort observed a study group of 2,149 individuals diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee; a linkage between soft drink intake and elevated arthritis issues was not found amongst female participants. Lu noted that the results did not stem from weight or obesity as predominantly as one might presume.
"We very carefully [took into account] weight in the statistical analysis. We controlled not only for the general categories of overweight and obesity, but also for patients' specific body-mass indices, or BMIs," Lu said.
Soda works as a secondary detriment in conjunction with the damage done on knees and other joints due to excess weight, Lu clarified.
In the face of such findings, it’s recommended that men not drink sugary sodas.
"As with everything, enjoy soda in moderation. If you are [a man with] knee osteoarthritis and are drinking a lot of soda, this might be a reason to curb back," said American College of Rheumatology spokesman Scott Zashin, MD.
For some parties, the study’s marks are far from definitive.
In a statement regarding the study, the American Beverage Association wrote: "The authors' 'novel findings' — as they call them — suggest only a possible association of soft drink consumption with osteoarthritis in knees, which they state cannot be proven without further testing. Consequently, this presentation fails to establish that drinking soft drinks causes any negative health outcomes or even that they are linked to negative health outcomes.”
"As stated by the NIAMSD (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease), [being overweight or obese] may impact overall joint health. However, all calories count when it comes to overweight and obesity, and there is nothing unique about the calories contributed to the diet by soft drinks," the statement concludes.
The results of the study were presented at last week’s American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.