Numerous scientific evidence examines the association of excessive consumption of sugary drinks with the onset of diseases such as obesity and diabetes. A new survey shows that it can also be linked to the risk of developing cancer. This is demonstrated by a study conducted at the Cress (Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center) of the Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, and published in the British Medical Journal in July 2019.
French researchers observe how even a small daily consumption of sugary beverages can increase the risk of cancer. For five years, they monitored the eating habits of more than 100,000 healthy French adults (79% women, and 21% men), with an average age of about 42 years. This survey was included in the NutriNet-Santé study, carried out from 2009 to 2018. The participants completed two online food questionnaires that were designed to estimate their usual consumption of food and beverages.
The main focus of the study was the association between the intake of sugary drinks and the risk of developing cancer. Sweet drinks were considered those with more than 5% sugar and included carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices with no added sugar, soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, and coffee with sugar, as well as dietary drinks with artificial sweeteners (for which no links with the onset of tumors were found). The consumption of these beverages was then compared with medical records and health insurance data.
The results show that over 2,000 cases of cancer were diagnosed during the observation period, including breast cancer (693), followed by prostate (291), and colorectal cancer(166). In practice, 22 out of every thousand people included in the study developed cancer. The analysis shows that those who consumed about two cans of sugary drinks per week (about 100 ml per day) have an 18% higher risk of getting cancer. Furthermore, it was found that the incidence of cancer increases in those who drink more than 185 ml of sugary drinks per day, compared to those who drink fewer amounts (less than 30 ml per day).
However, cause and effect cannot be established, since this was an observational study. Therefore, further scientific investigations are needed to analyze and establish a cause-effect relationship. Nonetheless, a possible factor can be high blood sugar levels. In any case, it must be considered that people who regularly consume sugary drinks may also have unhealthy habits (unbalanced and high-calorie diet, little physical activity, smoking). The experts therefore recommend having a healthy lifestyle and follow a proper diet.
Eloi Chazelas et Al. – “Sugary Drink Consumption and Risk of Cancer: Results from NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort “- British Medical Journal (July 2019)