Giving up sugary drinks could reduce your risk of developing cancer, according to new research

A French study has found a possible link between higher consumption of sugary drinks and an increased risk of cancer

Worldwide, we are downing more sugary drinks in the last few decades than ever before. This has been convincingly linked to obesity, which is recognised as a strong risk factor for many cancers. However, research on sugary drinks and the risk of cancer is still limited.

Over 100 000 people studied

A research team set out to assess the association between the consumption of sugary drinks (sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices) and artificially sweetened (diet) beverages, and the risk of overall cancer, as well as specifically breast, prostate and bowel (colorectal) cancers.

Their findings are based on 101 257 healthy French adults (21% men; 79% women) with an average age of 42 years at inclusion time, from the NutriNet-Santé cohort study.

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The participants completed at least two 24-hour online validated dietary questionnaires. Daily consumption of sugary drinks (sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices) and artificially sweetened (diet) beverages was calculated, and the first cases of cancer reported by participants were validated by medical records and linked with health insurance national databases.

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Drinking 100ml more a day

The results show that a 100 millilitre per day increase in the consumption of sugary drinks was associated with an 18% increased risk of overall cancer and a 22% increased risk of breast cancer.

When the group of ‘sugary’ drinks was split into fruit juices and other sugary drinks, the consumption of both beverage types was associated with a higher overall risk of cancer. No association was found for prostate and colorectal cancers, but numbers of cases were more limited for these cancer locations.

In contrast, the consumption of artificially sweetened (diet) beverages was not associated with a risk of cancer, but the authors warn that caution is needed in interpreting this finding owing to a relatively low consumption level in this sample.

Why the link between sugary drinks and cancer?

Possible explanations include the effect of the sugar contained in sugary drinks on visceral fat (stored around vital organs such as the liver and pancreas), blood sugar levels, and inflammatory markers, all of which are linked to increased cancer risk.

Other chemical compounds, such as the additives in some sodas might also play a role, they add.

This is an observational study, so it doesn’t establish cause, and the authors say they cannot rule out some misclassification of beverages or guarantee the detection of every new cancer case.

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Source: BMJ via www.sciencedaily.com

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