French Study Determines Sugary Drinks Linked with Higher Cancer Risk

It should come as no big surprise to hear that too many sugary drinks is bad for you, but a recent study has quantified this to determine that policies suggesting dramatic reduction in consumption of sugary drinks could, in fact, dramatically reduce cancer risk. 

According to this study, products like sugar-sweetened drinks and even 100 percent fruit juices have been linked with cancer. And since more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, this could be an important guideline for prevention. 

Of course, to understand how this might help, scientists used the study to understand the potential risks.  French researchers observed and analyzed data taken from more than 101,000 adults who had participated in the ongoing NutriNet-Sante cohort study.  The participants of this study were all healthy, with an average age of 42, when recruited for the study.

At the top of the study, each participant detailed several personal variables that might affect health. These include age, sex, education level, diet, weight, exercise, sociodemographic status, whether or not they smoked, and their initial health. Following this, each participant also filled out an online questionnaire on whether or not they ate anything from a list of 3,300 food items.   The study had a follow-up maximum of nine years; during that time, 2,193 of the study participants received a cancer diagnosis. 

Overall, the researchers say they found sugary drink consumption was consistently linked to these cancer diagnoses.  Looking at the data more closely, the researchers determined that an increase of sugary drink intake by 100 mL per day could be associated with a 22 percent higher risk of breast cancer (from the baseline) as well as an 18 percent higher risk of cancer, overall. 

At the end of the day, study co-author Mathilde Touvier concludes, “Sugary drinks are convincingly associated with the risk of obesity which, in turn, is recognized as a strong risk factor for many cancer sites.”

The INSERM research director is also a principal investigator for the NutriNet-Sante cohort. She goes on to say, “Analyses of this study suggest that overweight and weight gain may not be the only drivers of the association between sugary drinks and cancer risk, but that the relationship observed was also strongly driven by its sugar content.”

The results of this study have been published in the British Medical Journal