Study links sugary drinks to cancer

Cancer study has bad news for people who drink soda

Cancer study has bad news for people who drink soda

Consumption of sugary drinks has increased worldwide during the last few decades. The study was issued on Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are only some of the conditions that previous studies have associated with sweetened drinks.

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.

The team defined sugary drinks as beverages containing more than 5% of simple carbohydrates, which include soft drinks, syrups, milkshakes and energy drinks, among others, as well as 100% fruit juice.

Why the link between sugary drinks and cancer?

Touvier said her team observed that sugar seemed to be the main driver of the link.

And one possible explanation is that sugary drinks are increasing cancer risk.

Currently, public health guidelines across most of the Western world recommend that people should not consume upward of one glass' worth of sugary drinks per day.

"All beverages - with sugar or without it - are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet", the American Beverage Association said in a statement. Beverage companies are working to provide more choices with reduced or no sugar, smaller package sizes and clear calorie information, according to the industry group. But new research has found a link between drinking fruit juice and cancer.

A study published earlier this year found that drinking two or more of any kind of artificially sweetened drink a day was linked to an increased risk of clot-based strokes, heart attacks and early death in women over 50. But research on sugary drinks and the risk of cancer is still limited.

"For too long the nutri-myth of sweeteners being a health risk has remained in popular culture", she told the Science Media Centre in the UK.

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

For the new study, the research team looked at 101,257 healthy French adults - 79% women and 21% men who participated in the ongoing French NutriNet-Santé study. The participants answered questions about how much of more than 3,000 foods and beverages they consumed every day. Research on sugary drinks and the risks of cancer is limited, researchers designed this study to determine the associations between sugar sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices and artificially sweetened and diet beverages with the risk of overall cancer as well as specific cancers. While some people who drink sugary beverages in excess won't be negatively affected by them, majority are hurt physically in one way or another. Chazelas and colleagues accounted for potential confounders, including age, sex, education, hereditary risk of cancer, and lifestyle factors - such as smoking behaviour and exercise patterns.

He said: "Participants were followed on average for about five years, and 22 participants per 1,000 developed some form of cancer". Of these, 693 were breast cancers, 291 were prostate cancer cases and 166 were colorectal cancers.

However, this study is observational and doesn't show cause and effect. The researchers pointed out that some of the chemicals in the drink, such as those that make the drink attractive, may also be one of the cancer culprits.

Amelia Lake from Teesside University in the United Kingdom said that although the study did not confirm the causal relationship between sugar and cancer, it did indicate that it is important to reduce sugar intake.

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