In a study by the American Cancer Society, scientists found drinking too many sugary beverages may increase the risk of death from cancer.
Unfortunately, Americans exceed recommended limits on sugar intake by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and sugar-sweetened beverages are known risk factors for weight gain, being overweight and obesity.
The results appear to be related to the higher body mass index (BMI) of the participants who regularly drank these sugar-sweetened beverages.
In the study, the team used data from a cancer prevention study, searching for associations between these beverages and all cancers, obesity-related cancers and 20 cancer types.
They followed the participants from 1982, when more than 934,000 cancer-free people provided information on beverage consumption, until 2016.
The researchers found that just over 135,000 participants had died from cancer by 2016.
While drinking more than two sugar-sweetened beverages per day was not linked to all-cancer deaths compared to those who drank none of these beverages, it was associated with an increased risk of obesity-related cancers. This was nullified after adjusting for BMI.
The sugar-sweetened drinks were linked to increased death rates from colon and kidney cancer, which still held true after adjusting for BMI.
Participants who consumed artificially sweetened beverages also had an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
The team says future research should consider the role of BMI in studies of sweetened beverages and cancer risk.
These results should inform public policy regarding sweetened beverage intake, to decrease the risk of cancer for men and women in the U.S.
For more information about cancer prevention, please see recent studies about antibiotics linked to higher colon cancer risk, and results showing what you need to know about supplements and cancer.
The study was conducted by Marjorie McCullough et al and published in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
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