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Sugary Drinks May Up Cancer Risk: Study

Consuming sugar-laden beverages such as sodas, energy drinks and sweetened fruit juices may increase the risk of developing various cancers, a new study has found.

“The objective of this study was to closely evaluate the risk factors of sugar consumption from sugar-sweetened beverages among cancer survivors and people not diagnosed with cancer,” said Melinda Sothern, Professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Centre in the US.

“Recently growing evidence suggests a link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the risk of pancreatic and endometrial cancer, as well as the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death among cancer survivors,” she said.

Lead author Tung-Sung Tseng, Associate Professor at LSU along with colleagues examined 22,182 adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2012 data.

The survey measured the consumption of sweetened fruit juices, sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas and coffees and other sugar-sweetened drinks.

It also ascertained cancer, smoking and obesity status, as well as demographic characteristics including age, gender, race, educational level and poverty/income ratio.

For the overall study population, 15.7 per cent had high sugar intake from sugar-sweetened drinks.

People with no cancer history had a higher sugar intake than cancer survivors, although this could be due to other factors including older age and gender.
The sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages among women with cervical cancer history was much higher (60 grammes per day) compared to other cancer survivors who consumed only around 30-40 grammes per day.

Researchers also found that individuals who had high sugar intake (80 grammes per day sugar) from sugar-sweetened beverages were younger, male, black, obese, current smokers, low-income or had education levels at or below high school. “Although consuming added sugar is not recommended, people are not usually aware of how much sugar they get from sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Tseng.

“The American Heart Association recommends a consumption goal of no more than 450 kilocalories of sugar-sweetened beverages or fewer than three 12-ounce cans of soda per week,” he said.

The results show that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption behaviour varies across cancers and may be related to age. The study is published in the journal Translational Cancer Research.

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