Consuming Sugary Drinks Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

Adults who consume sugary drinks incur an increased risk of cancer, according to a study published in the BMJ.

In a population-based cohort study, researchers assessed 101,257 participants (aged 18 and above, mean age, 42) from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort of 2009-2017. Following recruitment, the participants were prompted to answer a set of five questionnaires that assessed their sociodemographic data, height and weight, diet, activity level, and health status. At baseline and once every six months the participants were asked to fill out three non-consecutive web-based 24-hour dietary records, which were arbitrarily designed over the duration of two weeks. The questionnaire was designed to obtain information of the participants’ usual consumption of 3,300 different food and beverage items. The researchers required participants to complete at least two dietary records during the first two years of follow-up. The study’s main outcome was the prospective link between sugary beverage consumption and the risk of developing breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer, which was measured by multi-adjusted Fine and Gray hazard models while accounting for any associated risks.

Sugary Drinks Are Dangerous

According to the study findings, an analysis of 2,193 cases indicated that sugary drink consumption was significantly linked with the increased overall risk of cancer (sub distribution HR for 100mL/d increase 1.18, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.27, P<0.0001) and breast cancer (693, 1.22, 1.07 to 1.39, P=0.004). Moreover, a specific sub analyses suggest the consumption of 100% fruit juices was notably linked with an increased risk of cancer (1.12, 1.03 to 1.23, P=0.007). However, artificially sweetened beverages were not linked to an increased risk of cancer.

“The results of this observational study based on a large prospective cohort suggest that a higher consumption of sugary drinks is associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer,” the study authors wrote in their conclusion.

“Of note, 100% fruit juices were also associated with the risk of overall cancer in this study. If these results are replicated in further large-scale prospective studies and supported by mechanistic experimental data and given the large consumption of sugary drinks in Western countries, these beverages would represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention, beyond their well-established impact on cardiometabolic health.”

They authors added that these “data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice, as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence.”