Higher Consumption Sugary Drinks May Increase Cancer Risk

Laverne Higgins
July 14, 2019

It's possible, the researchers found, that some chemical additives in these beverages may play a role in the increased cancer risk, but sugar appeared to be the primary factor.

Daily consumption of sugary drinks - sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices - and artificially sweetened or diet beverages were calculated and first cases of cancer reported by participants were validated by medical records and linked with health insurance national databases. For a person eating 2,000 calories per day, this would equal 50 grams of sugar, or about 12.5 teaspoons.

Method: The research team collected data from 100,000 French men and women, who had an average age of 42.

Participants completed at least two 24-hour online validated dietary questionnaires, created to measure usual intake of 3,300 different food and beverage items and were followed up for a maximum of nine years. Mr. Touvier went on to say in a recent interview that accompanied the study's publication that sugar was the overwhelmingly primary driver of boosting people's risks of getting diagnosed with cancer, rather than any other ingredients found in modern sugary drinks.

101,257 adults were included in this study who completed at least two 24 hour online validated dietary questionnaires created to measure intake of more than 3,000 distinct food and beverage items, who were followed up with for a maximum of 9 years; risk factors for cancer such as age, sex, smoking status, family history, and physical activity levels among others were taken into account.

The findings may not be widely generalizable, as the study cohort is not representative of the wider population, they continue.

That included fruit juice (even with no added sugar), soft drinks, sweetened milkshakes, energy drinks and tea or coffee with sugar stirred in.

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However, the study found no links with colorectal cancer or prostate cancer.

During this time, the researchers looked at the risk of "overall, breast, prostate, and colorectal 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.

Chazelas and colleagues also lay out the strengths and weaknesses of their research.

Drinking soda doesn't just threaten to make us fat, it could be linked to a higher risk of cancer, judging from a new study.

Well, that's terrifying - "sugary drinks" includes 100% fruit juices.

100 mL per day increase in consumption of sugary drinks was found to be associated with an 18% increased risk for overall cancer, and a 22% increased risk for breast cancer; fruit juice and sugary drink consumption were found to be associated with higher risk of overall cancer; and consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with a risk of cancer, although it was noted that there was relatively low consumption of artificially sweetened beverages in this study sample.

Dr Graham Wheeler, senior statistician at Cancer Research UK, said further research was needed before we could be assured fruit juices and other sugar-containing drinks could be linked to cancer.

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