Prehypertension, Soft Drinks, Caffeine and Breast Disease

Q: What is “prehypertension”?
Q: Can soft drinks damage teeth even if they’re diet drinks?
Q: Does caffeine affect fibrocystic breast disease?

Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: What is “prehypertension”?

A: If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg, you are one of the 59 million Americans with prehypertension. You don’t have high blood pressure (hypertension) now, but are likely to develop it in the future. Researchers say that even blood pressures in this range increase a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. A recent study confirms previous findings that a healthy lifestyle can turn things around. After 18 months, the odds of developing hypertension were substantially reduced with weight loss of even 15 pounds, three hours a week of moderate exercise and moderately limited sodium and alcohol consumption. Some studies suggest that limiting saturated fat and caffeine may also help blood pressure control, though these results are less certain. All of these steps do much more than protect you from blood pressure’s damage to the heart and blood vessels. These same steps also lower your risk of cancer.

Q: Can soft drinks damage teeth even if they’re diet drinks?

A: Yes, if consumed frequently. These drinks contain acid that can gradually dissolve tooth enamel with long-term exposure. Enamel – the thin, hard outer layer of our teeth –maintains tooth structure and acts as a barrier to decay. When enamel wears away, teeth become cracked, discolored and are more sensitive to hot and cold. While regular sugar-containing soft drinks seem to contain more acid and promote more erosion than diet soft drinks, both are far more acidic than water. Also beware of alternative beverages like lemon ice tea and sports drinks. These options contain phosphoric and citric acids and have just as much erosion-promoting acid as carbonated soft drinks.

Besides limiting the amount of acidic beverages you drink, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends consuming them in limited time periods rather than sipping them throughout the day. You can further reduce exposure to the acid by using a straw. Also, don’t rush to brush your teeth right after consuming these drinks: tooth enamel remains soft and more susceptible to mechanical abrasion for about an hour after consumption. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva and help neutralize the acid.

Q: Does caffeine affect fibrocystic breast disease?

A: Fibrocystic breast disease is a condition in which women develop noncancerous lumps in their breasts. Some experts urge women with this condition to avoid caffeine. But current research does not indicate a strong link between the two. More studies are needed. In the meantime, women with fibrocystic disease might benefit from trying to reduce or avoid caffeine. If no effect appears after several months, these women could resume having caffeine in moderation.

Share.

About Author

Posts By 3FC