Cola Consumption increases fracture risk for girls:
Menopausal women have been advised to reduce their soda intake because the phosphoric acid in these beverages leaches calcium from bones and increases the risk of osteoporotic bone fractures. While this sounds like a reasonable recomendation in theory, I have not read a study which clearly quantifies this risk. The Rancho Bernardo study conducted by the University of California looked at carbonated beverage consumption and compared it to bone density measurements in one thousand women aged 44 to 98 years old. They were unable to show any adverse effects on the bone of these older women. On the other hand evidence is continuing to mount that soda consumption, particularly the colas, significantly weakens bones in younger women, especially teenage girls. Depending on the study, risk of bone fractures among teenage girls who consume carbonated cola beverages are from 1.7 , 3.6 and most recently 3.14 times that of girls who don't drink cola.
Several studies have noted even higher rates with girls who are athletes. One study found that soda drinking former college athletes were more 2.3 times more likely to have a bone fracture by age 40 than non soda drinking former college athletes. Engaging in athletic activity is itself a risk for increased fractures. But cola drinking adds to it. Perhaps because athletic activity increases hydration needs and these girls drink more soda than average. June's Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine printed a Harvard study showing athletic teenage female cola drinkers have 4.94 times the average risk of bone fracture.
Another piece to this story is milk consumption. Kids don't usually mix milk with their cola and as soda consumption increases, milk consumption decreases. We've always assumed that milk builds strong bones. One would thus think that drinking milk would decrease bone fractures in kids. This might not be so. A Greek study published in 1997 in the Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine was unable to show any correlation. On the other hand they did show that a can a day of cola almost doubled risk.[7 ]
1. Am J Public Health 1997 Feb;87(2):276-9