Scientists from the American Cancer Society found that sugary beverages are linked to higher cancer death risks.
Sugary drinks refer to any beverage with added sugar or other sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, and more).
This includes soda, pop, cola, tonic, fruit punch, lemonade (and other “ades”), sweetened powdered drinks, as well as sports and energy drinks.
As a category, these beverages are the single largest source of calories and added sugar in the U.S. diet.
In other parts of the world, sugary drink consumption is rising fast due to widespread urbanization and beverage marketing.
Sugary drinks provide many calories and virtually no other nutrients. People who drink sugary beverages do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food.
A person who drinks just one sugary drink every day and does not cut back on calories elsewhere could gain up to 5 pounds in a year.
In addition, regularly drinking sugar-loaded beverages can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
A higher intake of sugary beverages has been linked with an increased risk of premature death.
In the current study, researchers aimed to test whether sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to cancer death independent of obesity.
They examined the associations of sugar-sweetened beverages and artificially-sweetened beverages with death risks in all cancers, obesity-related cancers, and 20 individual cancer types.
The team used data from men and women in the Cancer Prevention Study-II (CPS-II).
In 1982, more than 930,000 cancer-free participants provided information on their intake of sugary beverages. Deaths were identified through 2016.
The researchers found that during follow-up, 135,093 participants died from cancer.
Drinking two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day was not linked to all-cancer death but was linked to an increased risk of obesity-related cancers. But after controlling BMI, the effect was gone.
Sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to increased death from colorectal and kidney cancers even after controlling for BMI.
Drinking artificially sweetened beverages was linked to death in obesity-related cancers, but the effect was gone after controlling for BMI. However, an increased risk of pancreatic cancer was robust to BMI adjustment.
Based on the findings, researchers suggest that sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to higher death from certain cancers, partially mediated through obesity.
Future work needs to examine the link between artificially sweetened beverages and increased pancreatic cancer risk.
Researchers should consider the role of BMI in studies of sweetened beverages and cancer risk.
The research was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention and was conducted by Marjorie L. McCullough et al.
If you care about cancer, please read studies that artificial sweeteners are linked to higher cancer risk, and how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease and results showing how vitamin B may help fight vision loss, brain cancer, and COVID-19.
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