A new study suggests there may be a link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices and the development of cancer.
The study is observational and does not claim that drinking sugary drinks causes cancer. But after controlling for known variables, French researchers did find an association.
The study, in BMJ, involved 101,257 people, average age 42, who had filled out repeated 24-hour food-intake questionnaires. The form listed 97 sugary drinks and 12 artificially sweetened beverages.
Over nine years, there were 2,193 first cases of cancer, including 693 cases of breast cancer, 291 of prostate cancer and 166 of colorectal cancer.
Compared with the lowest one-quarter for sugary drink consumption, the highest one-quarter had a 30 percent higher risk for any cancer, and a 37 percent higher risk for breast cancer. There was no increased risk for prostate or colorectal cancer considered separately, but the number of cases was too small to find statistical significance.
The researchers found no association of cancer with the consumption of artificially sweetened drinks.
The possible mechanism linking sugary beverages with cancer is unknown, but the authors suggest that sugary drinks might promote visceral fat deposits, and that this fat around the internal organs could promote tumor formation.
“We cannot make a causal inference,” said the senior author, Mathilde Touvier, a research director at Inserm, the French public health research center. “But we took into account many demographic and lifestyle factors, and the association was still significant.”
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