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13 Drinks That Are Shortening Your Life, According to Science

There's evidence that drinking certain beverages can make you live a shorter life.
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Olivia Tarantino
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If you're trying to eat healthily in order to live a longer life, you likely already know to take a close look at the foods you eat, but you also need to be paying attention to the drinks that are accompanying your meals and snacks.

Not all beverages are created equal. In fact, consuming certain drinks in excess has actually been scientifically proven to shorten your life. So before you reach for that Frappuccino or Diet Coke, read on to learn about which drinks you should avoid. And for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss these 8 Dangerous Foods That Are Shortening Your Life, According to Science.

1

Alcohol

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Imbibing on occasion won't have a negative impact on your life expectancy, but overindulging is a different story. In fact, one Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research study found that people who consumed alcohol on four or more days a week increased their risk of early death by 20 percent on average.

And that's just the start of the alcohol-related research in relation to life expectancy. Another study found that anyone who had 18 or more drinks in a week should expect their life to significantly shorten. No one should have over 14 drinks in a week, whether these come in the form of shots or pints of beer. For more, see Drinking Habits That Are Shortening Your Life, According to Science.

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2

Vodka

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As established above, drinking any type of alcohol in excess can have detrimental health effects, and vodka is no exception. In fact, according to The New York Times, heavy vodka consumption is a key reason why Russian men don't live as long as men in other developed countries.

The publication cited two studies that found drinking vodka was the reason why men in Russia have a 25% chance of dying before they turn 55. According to one study, which was reported in The Lancet in 2014, male smokers who reported drinking three or more half-liter bottles of vodka per week had a substantially higher risk of death than those who reported drinking less than one bottle a week.

3

Coffee

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There's absolutely nothing wrong with having two, three, or even four cups of coffee per day, but one study found that consuming more than four cups of coffee a day could actually have negative effects on one's lifespan. However, the scientists that authored the study, which evaluated 40,000 younger adults, did note that having 28 cups a week is fine (exactly 4 cups each day of the week), but drinking more of that could result in negative consequences with regards to longevity. For more, see Ugly Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Coffee, According to Science.

4

Sugary Coffee Drinks

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Drinking too many overly sugary coffee drinks is even more dangerous than coffee alone. Numerous studies have shown that eating too much sugar can lead to an early death. This is because, in addition to contributing to weight gain and obesity, the sugar in your cup of joe can cause dehydration, which can be a symptom of high blood sugar and, if not monitored, increase the risk of diabetes.

5

Soda

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According to a 2019 study that appeared in the journal, Circulation, the more sugar-sweetened drinks people consumed, the higher their risk for death. More specifically, researchers found that each additional daily 12-ounce serving of sugary drinks (like soda) was associated with a 7% increased risk for death from any cause, a 5% increased risk for cancer death, and a 10% increased risk for death from cardiovascular disease. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drinking soda. You should also beware of the 10 Side Effects of Drinking Soda Every Day.

6

Sports Drinks

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Sure, they don't tend to be as sweet as soda, but sports drinks can shorten your life too. Per the same 2019 study cited above, Harvard researchers found that drinking sports drinks (and other sugary beverages) increases the risk of dying from heart disease and some types of cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.

7

Sweetened Iced Tea

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While a cup of tea (especially green tea) actually has many health benefits and can help ensure you live a long, happy life, sweetened iced tea (which is commonly referred to as sweet tea in the South) is a different story. Since this sugary drink is often loaded with artificial sweeteners, drinking it regularly can have a negative impact on your life expectancy.

That same Circulation study concluded that artificially sweetened beverages are linked to severe health issues, including premature death. "The optimal intake of these drinks is zero," said Vasanti S. Malik, lead study author and research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "They have no health benefits."

The American Heart Association (AHA), states that the recommended sugar intake per day is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men but adding just one medium Chick-fil-A Sweet Tea to your diet a week means your ingesting a whopping 31 grams of sugar from that beverage alone. To make matters even worse, the sweet tea, as Malik pointed out, has zero nutritional value.

8

Diet Soda

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While diet soda may be less damaging than regular soda from a caloric standpoint, it can be just as damaging (if not more so, thanks to all of those artificial sweeteners and chemicals) to one's overall health.

In fact, per a study through the Cleveland Clinic, soda and diet soda consumption leads to an increased risk of death. That's because these drinks may lead to weight gain and obesity. They also may affect the way the hormone insulin is used in the body, which can lead to inflammation. All of these things can lead to health conditions that may shorten life.

9

Fruit Juice

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Sodas aren't the only sugary drinks you should avoid if you want to live a long, healthy life. Though fruit juices may seem healthier than other soft drinks, they're often just as sugary (and therefore damaging) than their carbonated counterparts.

According to CBS, drinking more than eight ounces of juice a day can significantly increase your chances of obesity and coronary disease, which can increase the risk of an early death by as much as 42%.

10

Milk

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Per a team of Swedish researchers, drinking milk to excess may be detrimental to health and could even shorten lifespan in women. The 2017 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that large volumes of milk can promote chronic low-grade inflammation in the body. There's also a heightened risk based on gender thanks to a sensitivity to galactose exposure. The study also identified higher mortality rates in both women and men with high milk consumption.

More specifically, in the study of 106,000 Swedish men and women, results suggest for women who consumed at least three glasses of milk and ate fruit and vegetables once a day, the risk of dying was three times as high compared to those who drank no more than one glass of milk per day and ate fruits and vegetables at least five times per day.

11

Protein Shakes

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Protein shakes are great as a pre- or post-workout refreshment and are great if you're looking to bulk up. But, as with many other beverages, they are best consumed in moderation. According to a study featured in The Independent, increasing your protein intake to super-high levels in a day decreases your quality of life in later years and leads to an early death. The risk of mortality stems from added BCAA supplements, meaning that if your drink gets made with this type of powder, you are inadvertently putting yourself in unnecessary danger.

What's more? A nonprofit group called the Clean Label Project released a report about toxins in protein powders in 2018. Researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals (like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. Some toxins were even present in significant quantities, which can certainly have a negative impact on one's life expectancy.

12

Pre-bottled Smoothies

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Research published in JAMA International Medicine that spanned 15 years found that the more sugar in your daily diet, the higher the odds of death due to cardiovascular disease. While pre-bottled smoothies might seem like a healthier choice since they are typically fruit-based, there's plenty of sugar lurking in these drinks as well.

The JAMA study subjects who consumed at least 25% of their caloric intake from sugar were more than twice as likely to pass away from cardiovascular disease compared to adults who took in under 10% of added sugars each day.

13

Energy Drinks

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Though they may be good for an afternoon pick-me-up energy drinks are far from healthy and can even take years off of your life if consumed too often. According to a 2017 study that appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association, energy drinks can cause potentially "life-threatening" alterations to the body. Additionally, the research showed that as little as one drink can make significant changes to blood pressure and to the heart's electrical activity, which can have catastrophic effects.

The study gave two groups of subjects either an energy drink or a control drink which contained the same amount of caffeine but had lime juice and cherry syrup added as opposed to the sugar and other compounds found in energy drinks. Those who had energy drinks were found to have elevated blood pressure and corrected QT interval (the measurement of time it takes for the heart to beat again) ten milliseconds higher, which can lead to an abnormal heartbeat. Per the research, this can be especially dangerous for those with high blood pressure or cardiac conditions. For more on how energy drinks affect your body, read up on 12 Dangerous Side Effects of Energy Drinks, According to Science.

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