New Study: Sugary Drinks May Raise Cancer Risk
Photo by Angelo Moleele on Unsplash
Scientists have linked sugar with a wide range of health risks, including weight gain, an increase in the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, acne, depression and even cellular aging. Now, researchers are examining the link between sugary drinks and the risk of developing cancer.
A French observational study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in July 2019, provides evidence of a link between the high intake of sugary drinks and cancer. Researchers examined 101,257 French adults aged 42 years, on average.
The drinks they examined included “sugar-sweetened beverages” like soft drinks, syrups, fruit drinks, 100% fruit juices without added sugar, milk-based sugary drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks. Using 24-hour online food questionnaires, the researchers assessed the participants’ consumption of 3,300 different kinds of foods and drinks. Clinical observation of the participants continued for up to 9 years, where researchers studied the risk of “overall, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer”.
The Study Results
Over the follow-up period, 2,193 people developed cancer for the first time; they were 59 years old at the time of diagnosis, on average. Among these cases, 693 developed breast cancer, 291 developed prostate cancer, and 166 developed colorectal cancer.
The analysis revealed that for a daily increase of 100 milliliters in the intake of sugary drinks, the risk of overall cancer rose by 18%, and the risk of breast cancer increased by 22%. When the researchers analyzed the risk of for 100% fruit juices separately, these also elevated the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer, but not colorectal or prostate cancer.
By contrast, diet drinks did not increase cancer risk. The scientists explain that people who consumed diet drinks did so in very small amounts, so they suggest interpreting this particular result with caution.
The data was limited and there were strengths and weaknesses of their research. The researchers conclude, “These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice, as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence.”