The consumption of sugary drinks and 100% fruit juices was positively associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer, found a nine-year Frenchobservational study.
For some time now, researchers have been linking sugary drinks with a wide range of health risks,Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are only some of the conditions that previous studies have associated with sweetened drinks. Some studies in rodents have suggested that the added sugar in soft drinks can drive the spread of cancer and fuel tumour growth.
Now, the report says, new research further explores the link between sugary drinks and cancer. The observational study finds an association between high intake of sugary drinks and cancer.
The report says the drinks they examined included “sugar-sweetened beverages” such as soft drinks, syrups, fruit drinks, 100% fruit juices without any added sugar, milk-based sugary drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks. The researchers also considered artificially sweetened drinks, that is, “all beverages containing non-nutritive sweeteners, such as diet soft drinks, sugar-free syrups, and diet milk-based beverages.”
Using 24-hour online food questionnaires, the researchers assessed the participants’ consumption of 3,300 different kinds of foods and drinks. Furthermore, clinical observation of the participants continued for up to 9 years. During this time, the researchers looked at the risk of “overall, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.”
The report accounted for potential confounders, including age, sex, education, hereditary risk of cancer, and lifestyle factors – such as smoking behavior and exercise patterns.
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 all these cases were 693 of breast cancer, 291 of prostate cancer, and 166 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%.
The report says when the researchers analyzed the risk for 100% fruit juices separately; these also elevated the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. However, the study found no links with colorectal cancer 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.
However, the authors speculate that sugary drinks may raise cancer risk because the sugar affects visceral fat, blood sugar, and inflammatory markers – all of which previous studies have correlated with higher cancer risk.
According to the report, 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.”
Conclusions: In this large prospective study, the consumption of sugary drinks was positively associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. 100% fruit juices were also positively associated with the risk of overall cancer. These results need replication in other large-scale prospective studies. They suggest that sugary drinks, which are widely consumed in Western countries, might represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention.