A recent news story may have you believe that drinking Dr Pepper can extend your life. We asked an actual Dr. Pepper if there's any truth to that.
In an interview with a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station, 104-year-old Elizabeth Sullivan says the secret to her long life is that she drinks three Dr Pepper sodas every day and has for four decades. "Every doctor that sees me says it'll kill you. But they die, and I don't, so there must be a mistake somewhere," Sullivan says.
Ginette Pepper, PhD, RN, a professor at University of Utah's College of Nursing, says the ingredients in Dr Pepper are not exactly known to promote resilience.
"Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate preservative, and caffeine have no scientifically established association with longevity," Pepper says. "For some of these ingredients, there is well-known evidence that they may have deleterious effects on life span, particularly with excessive use."
Pepper adds, "There is some evidence for health benefits of moderate caffeine intake for some people."
While cans of Dr Pepper may not contain the fountain of youth, it is possible to extend your life by adopting a healthy lifestyle. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2011 listed four behaviors that can lower your risk of death: not smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and drinking moderately.
But doing what makes you happy may also hold the key to long life.
"The number of centenarians is increasing rapidly," Pepper says. "One in every 26 of the baby boomers will reach the age of 100. Like Ms. Elizabeth Sullivan, many will credit a favored habit for their longevity. And in a way they may be right since the scientific evidence that happiness is associated with long life is very strong."