Drinking a lot of soft drinks may increase the risk for asthma and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a recent study suggests.

Study Details

Nearly 17,000 people aged 16 and older in South Australia were asked about their consumption of soft drinks such as Coke, flavored mineral water, lemonade, Powerade and Gatorade.

More than 10% of the participants said they drank more than half a liter of soft drinks a day, according to the study, which was published in the journal Respirology. That's a little more than two 8-ounce glasses of soft drinks.

The researchers found that 13.3% of the participants with asthma and 15.6% of those with COPD consumed more than half a liter of soft drinks a day.

People who consumed that amount were 1.2 times more likely to have asthma and 1.7 times more likely to have COPD than those who did not consume soft drinks, the researchers said.

What Findings Mean

"Our study emphasizes the importance of healthy eating and drinking in the prevention of chronic diseases like asthma and COPD." said study leader Zumin Shi, MD, PhD, of the University of Adelaide.

The researchers said the risk was dose-related, meaning the more soft drinks consumed, the greater the odds of having COPD or asthma.

However, the study merely points out an association and does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. It's possible, for example, that people who drink large amounts of soft drinks have poor diets, or other bad habits, that may cause the observed increase in lung disease.

Smoking increased the risk even further, especially for COPD. People who smoked and consumed more than half a liter of soft drinks a day had a 6.6 times greater risk of COPD than those who didn't smoke and didn't consume soft drinks.

COPD Inhaler Warning

COPD inhalers may cause urinary difficulty. According to a recent study, among more than 500,000 patients ages 66 and older with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), men who had just started using anticholinergic inhalers were 42% more likely than those who did not use inhalers to develop acute urinary retention, or difficulty urinating. Risk was almost twice as high in men with enlarged prostate. There was no increased risk for women.

Theory: Inhaled anticholinergic medications can be absorbed into the bloodstream and affect other organs such as the bladder.

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