Sugary drinks cancer. Regularly drinking a little too much sugary drinks, more than a small glass of soda or fruit juice a day, could promote the occurrence of cancer, suggests a large study published Thursday.
The consumption of sugary drinks has increased worldwide in recent decades and they have already been associated with an increased risk of obesity, itself recognized as a major risk factor for cancer.
Researchers in France wanted to evaluate the association, previously less studied, between sugary drinks and the risk of cancer.
“We found that an increase in the consumption of sugary drinks was positively associated with the overall risk of cancer and breast cancer,” write the authors of this work in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).
A simple “increase of 100 ml per day on average of the consumption of sugary drinks, which corresponds to a small glass or about a third of a standard can (33 cl), is associated with an 18% increase in the risk of cancer,” says Dr. Mathilde Touvier, director of the research team in nutritional epidemiology Eren (Inserm / Cnam, Paris).
The increase is 22% for breast cancer.
The risk is similar whether it is sweet drinks or pure fruit juice without added sugar. These two types of drinks are indeed associated with a higher risk of cancer in general, according to the study.
The results suggest a 30% increase in the diagnosis of “all cancers” in the group who consume the most sugary drinks compared to those who consume the least.
Although the study does not demonstrate a causal link, it shows a “significant association,” says the researcher. The factors (age, lifestyle, physical activity, smoking …) that could have influenced the results were taken into account.
And “it is the sugar that seems to play the main role in this association with cancer,” which can not be explained solely by weight gain of study participants.
On the other hand, no link has been detected between the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages (with sweeteners, ed) and the risk of cancer in this study, the authors note.
However, the statistical power of the analysis on this point is probably limited because of relatively low consumption of this type of beverage in this population.
In other words, it is not because a link was not found in this study that there is no risk, says the researcher. “Sweeteners are not an alternative and are clearly not recommended for the long term,” says Touvier.
Better, therefore, reduce sugar. “The recommendation in France is less than one (small) glass of fruit juice a day” for example, she recalls.
A sweet drink contains at least 5% sugar; 1oo ml of pure orange juice without sugar added about 10 grams of sugar (about two pieces of sugar), and a lot more nectar, she says.
The researchers interviewed more than 100,000 adults participating in the French NutriNet-Santé study, an average age of 42, of whom 79% are women.
The participants, followed for a maximum of nine years (2009-2018), completed at least two online validated dietary questionnaires about their diet and their daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (including 100% fruit juice) or artificially sweetened beverages.
During follow-up, 2,193 cases of cancer were recorded on average at 59 years of age.
For the authors, these results “confirm the relevance of the existing nutritional recommendations to limit the consumption of sugary drinks, including 100% fruit juice, as well as political measures” such as taxes and trade restrictions against them.