Having too many sugary drinks linked to higher cancer risk

Laverne Higgins
July 11, 2019

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

People who drink a lot of sugary drinks have a higher risk of developing cancer, although the evidence can not establish a direct causal link, researchers said on Thursday. This follows a recent study linking sugary beverage consumption to greater risk of premature death. The researchers also proposed that imposing a tax on sugary food and drinks could have an important effect on the rates of cancer.

The study finds that people who drink 100ml (about 3.4 ounces) a day, the equivalent of a little less than one-third of a can of soda, have an 18% greater risk of developing cancer.

Anyone who has ditched soda for fruit juice in the name of health may want to pay heed to a new study in the British Medical Journal.

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".

Another possibility is that additives, such as 4-methylimidazole, which is found in drinks that contain caramel coloring, could play a role in cancer formation.

"So this means if 1,000 similar participants increased their daily sugary drink intake by 100ml, we'd expect the number of cancer cases to rise from 22 to 26 per 1,000 people over a five-year period". 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.

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The research found no link between diet beverages and cancer.

Researchers measured the daily intakes of sugary drinks against those of diet beverages and compared them to cancer cases in participants' medical records during the follow-up period.

The researchers also adjusted for several confounding cancer risk factors, including age, sex, educational level, family history, smoking and physical activity levels.

"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.

They surveyed more than 100,000 adults, with an average of age of 42, 79 per cent of whom were women. Seventy-nine percent of participants were women.

Those taking part had completed at least two 24-hour online validated dietary questionnaires, created to measure their usual intake of 3,300 food and beverage items, and were followed up for a maximum of nine years.

Her team's findings support "existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drinks consumption, including 100% fruit juices, as well as policy actions such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks", Touvier said.

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