Credit: © Samantha Craddock / Alamy

Sugary soft drinks are once again under scrutiny, this time with a study claiming that the beverage can age your cells as rapidly as cigarettes.

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study conducted at the University of California San Francisco drew a connection between telomeres – a part of chromosomes in our cells that is linked to a number of health concerns, including aging – and consuming sugary soda. (Diet soda drinkers can breathe a sigh of relief: Those artificial sweeteners are still bad for you, but they did not have the same effect telomeres.)

After analyzing data from over 5,000 adults, researchers found that people who drank more soda had shorter telomeres, and thus aged faster. “Drinking an 8-ounce daily serving of soda corresponded to 1.9 years of additional aging, and drinking a daily 20-ounce serving was linked to 4.6 more years of aging,” TIME reported. “The latter, the authors point out, is exactly the same association found between telomere length and smoking.”

Comparing soda to non-sugary choices, senior study author Elissa Epel stated, “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism.”

If anyone has plans to make a patch that can help you quit for Pepsi, now would be an excellent time to roll it out.