We’re consuming more sugary drinks as the years go by. That’s been of concern because sugary drinks are linked to a host of negative health outcomes – things like weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

This negative association is part of the reason why many governments around the world have considered, or even implemented, a sugar tax which makes sugary drinks more expensive and less appealing to consume because of their painful price point. But we still don’t know the full impact of sugary drinks – especially when it comes to cancer.

In this study, French researchers looked at a cohort of people who had answered questions about nutrition and their health.

There were more than a hundred thousand people, which is a big sample size – and over a five year period, they were asked about their diet including the sugary drinks – things like soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices, they consumed, at different points in time.

Other health information was also collected – such as whether the people smoked or drank a lot, which could influence the overall results. About three quarters of the study group were women.

The researchers found there was a link between consuming more sugary drinks and a higher risk of cancer. More specifically, there was also a link found between sugary drink consumption and breast cancer.

The link remained when the researchers looked particularly at sugary fruit drinks. But there didn’t seem to be a link between artificially-sweetened beverages (think sugar-free soft drink options) and increased risk of cancer.

Implications

Measures to reduce sugary drink consumption – both individual and at a population level – remain as important as ever.

Last Reviewed: 24/04/2020

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.



References

For reference: Chazelas, et al (2019). Sugary drink consumption and risk of cancer: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. BMJ doi: 10.1136/bmj.l2408.

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