Sugary drinks may be positively associated with the overall risk of cancer. So says a cancer research article in a recent The British Medical Journal. BMJ is respected as one of the world’s top scientific magazines.
The study involved over 100,000 people in France who consumed sugar-containing sodas and 100% fruit juices. First, the two MD authors noted the lack of research on the relationship between cancer – for instance, breast cancer – and these drinks (which are now taxed in Philadelphia stores).
As most Southwest women and their daughters know, while doctors find breast cancer in black women at about the same rate as white women, more black women die from breast cancer than their white sisters. Experts are quick to point out that the French study is “prospective.” That is, it doesn’t say there is proof of a direct connection between drinking sugared- beverages and cancer. There is no proof that sodas and juices cause cancer.
What it does point to, however, is that (a) “…these sugar-loaded drinks are a proven cause of overweight and obesity,” and (b) “there is a strong relationship between obesity and many types of cancer .” Dozens of studies show that consumption of sugared soft drinks (SSD’s) is directly associated with overweight. Young people who drink just 1 can of soda a day more than other kids are 60 percent more likely to be overweight. Similarly, tests show that replacing soda with water helps kids lose weight.
Sadly, Americans rank first in the world in sugar consumption. Americans average more than 126 grams of sugar in their food and drink per day (according to the Diabetes Council). Aside from increased weight gain, sugar has been linked to health issues like high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
For all these reasons, Dr. Coleen Doyle of the American Cancer Society says limiting SSD’s is smart. “This study adds to the science suggesting that it’s a good idea to limit sweetened beverage consumption,” she said. “Exercise, plus limiting alcohol, can also help reduce their risk of a variety of types of cancer,” says Dr. Doyle. She also recommends physical activity and limited alcohol consumption.
The beautiful thing about sugary soft drinks and overweight, cancer, diabetes, and heart and leg diseases, is that people can actually do something to reduce the risks themselves. It’s an exercise of will power that can make a major difference in both quality of life now and how long one lives!
- Malik VS, Willett WC, Hu FB. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:438-9; author reply 9-40.