Published: Fri, July 12, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Having too many sugary drinks linked to higher cancer risk

Having too many sugary drinks linked to higher cancer risk

The team at Université Sorbonne Paris Cité speculate that the impact of blood sugar levels may be to blame. The authors call for that to be investigated further.

What counts as a sugary drink?

Experts reported that people consuming just under 200ml on average of a sugar-sweetened drink or fruit juice each day had an 18% increased risk of all types of cancer.

There was no link between artificial sweeteners and cancer, but the numbers using artificial sweeteners were too small to be conclusive.

How big is the cancer risk?

The researchers found that participants who consumed around 3 ounces of soda, juice, or similar other beverages daily had an overall 18-percent increase in cancer risk and a 22-percent spike in breast cancer risk.

Among women with the highest fruit juice intake, breast cancer risk increased by 37%.

Sugary drinks aren't just bad for your waistline - they may also lead to an increase risk of cancer, a new study has found.

During a follow-up, researchers found 2,193 cases of cancer were diagnosed, the average age at diagnosis being 59 years.

But Touvier noted that when you compare the amount of sugar in a serving of fruit juice to soda, the drinks are remarkably alike, so it shouldn't be a shock that juices might hurt our long-term health.

A spokesperson for the American Cancer Society (ACS) said the findings should give consumers pause, because obesity is a known risk factor for cancer.


But, alternatively, people who drink the most sugary drinks could have other unhealthy behaviours (eating more salt and calories than then rest, for example) that raise their cancer risk and the sugary drinks themselves could be irrelevant.

But they said their findings showed an association and could not prove sugary drinks definitely caused cancer.

The connection between sugary drinks and cancer remained the same even after the team adjusted for age, sex, educational level, family history of cancer, smoking and physical activity, the researchers said.

However, the study said it was not the whole story.

So what might be going on?

The team said "being overweight and weight gain might not be the only drivers of the association between sugary drinks and the risk of cancer".

"While this study doesn't offer a definitive causative answer about sugar and cancer, it does add to the overall picture of the importance of the current drive to reduce our sugar intake", said Amelia Lake, reader in public health nutrition at Teesside University.

"But what we show is they are also associated, maybe, with cancer risk". Their consumption of sugary drinks was gauged by participants submitting at least two 24-hour diet recall questionnaires, which asked about their usual intake of 3,300 different food and drink items. That does not mean nobody should ever drink them.

What do drinks companies have to say?

Gavin Partington, director-general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said the study "does not provide evidence of cause, as the authors readily admit".

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