LSU study finds links between cancer and sugary drinks

Sugary drinks and cancer: Is there a link?

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Doctors have long warned about consuming too many sugary drinks.

But LSU researchers published a study this week about age as a big factor in the association between cancer and sugary beverages.

A study conducted by researchers at LSU Health New Orleans suggests that age is an important factor in the association between cancer and sugar-sweetened beverages and recommends that intervention aimed at reducing consumption of added sugar be focused on lower socio-economic status, young males, as well as cervical cancer survivors.

The study is published in the October 2016 issue of Translational Cancer Research.

Sugar intake or sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has been associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardio-metabolic diseases, as well as some cancers.

As more people are surviving cancer, the consumption of added sugar will be an increasingly important risk factor.

"The objective of this study was to closely evaluate the risk factors of sugar consumption  from sugar-sweetened beverages among cancer survivors and people not diagnosed with cancer, and to our knowledge, no other studies have examined sugar-sweetened beverage intake in cancer survivors," said Melinda Sothern, PhD, Professor of Public Health at LSU Health New Orleans and senior author.

"Recently growing evidence suggests a link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the risk of pancreatic and endometrial cancer, as well as the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death among cancer survivors," Sothern said.

The study examined data from 22,182 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2012 data. The survey measured the consumption of sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, sweetened fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas and coffees and other sugar-sweetened drinks. It also ascertained cancer, smoking and obesity status, as well as demographic characteristics including age, gender, race, educational level and poverty/income ratio.

For the overall study population, 15.7 percent had high sugar intake from sugar-sweetened drinks. People with no cancer history had a higher sugar intake than cancer survivors, although this could be due to other factors including older age and gender.

The sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages among women with cervical cancer history was much higher — 60 grams per day -- compared to other cancer survivors who consumed only around 30-40 g/day.

The research team also found that individuals who had high sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages were younger, male, black, obese, current smokers, low-income, or had education levels at or below high school.

The results of the study indicate that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption behavior varies across cancers and may be related to age.

The study suggests that intervention programs to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage or added sugar consumption should primarily focus on the at-risk groups in the study.

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