Soda-laden milk and coffee beverages may help people lose weight, but researchers in Israel have found that they also may increase the risk of developing the rare blood disorder colitis.
A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that drinking tea and milk with milk or sugar significantly increased the risk for colitis in people who were already obese, while drinking a diet soda with milk and sugar did not.
“The findings show that sugar-sweetened beverages are not only associated with increased consumption of sugar but also increased consumption and/or increased risk of colitis,” Dr. Yossi Luria, an associate professor at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Tel Aviv University, and his colleagues wrote.
The study also found that people who drank the beverages for longer than one day were at increased risk for developing the disease.
The findings are based on data collected from more than 1,200 people over a 12-month period, all of whom had a diagnosis of colibacism, which is characterized by excessive consumption of sugars and fats and inflammation of the intestines.
In addition to Luria’s research, he co-authored the article with Dr. Shlomo Galil, an assistant professor of nutrition and clinical nutrition at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Hebrew University.
They found that a diet of either regular or diet soda, both of which are made with artificially sweetened milk and/and sugar, were associated with a higher risk for both colibacia and colitis, with the intake of diet soda and regular soda increasing the risk by 1.4 percent and 4.4, respectively.
Luria said that in order to get a “nutritional benefit” from these drinks, they should be reduced in their sugar content.
“The higher the sugar content of diet drinks, the more you are increasing your risk for inflammation, which in turn increases your risk of chronic disease,” Luria said.
“It is also important to keep in mind that the sugar you consume is not the real source of this inflammation.
The real source is the diet.”
Luria and Galil said that their results were not surprising, since the beverage industry has long promoted its health benefits.
“This is an industry that has tried to portray its products as being healthy, as being safe, as having all the benefits that you might expect from a diet beverage,” Galil told ABC News.
“There is a very strong message that diet drinks are healthy and that they are good for you.”
A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Company told ABCNews.com that the company is not aware of any health concerns associated with Diet Coke.
More than 1.2 billion people in the world currently consume Diet Coke each day, according to a survey from Nielsen Media Research.