The female sex hormone estrogen is known to play an active role in developing most types of endometrial cancer, but now researchers at University of Minnesota have found something else that dramatically escalates your risk: your Big Gulp®.
In postmenopausal women, the more sugar-sweetened beverages you drink, the higher your risk for estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer, the most common type of the disease, the Minnesota study found.
Women who guzzle sugary drinks raised their risk as much as 78 percent for the disease compared to women who opt for sugar-free varieties.
The study is the first to show a relationship between sugary beverages and an endometrial cancer.
Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health who led the study, said in a statement she was not surprised at the findings.
In addition to cancer, numerous previous studies have linked sugary drinks to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and gout.
“Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer,” she said.
In a 2012 report, the Institute of Medicine concluded, “Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the [national] obesity epidemic.”
Although most cases of endometrial cancer occur between the ages of 60 and 70 years, a few cases may occur before age 40, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Endometrial cancer starts in the endometrium or the lining of the uterus, also known as the womb. The NCI estimates that nearly 50,000 women will be diagnosed with new endometrial cancer in 2013.
For the study, Inoue-Choi and colleagues used data from 23,039 postmenopausal women prior to the cancer diagnosis, as part of the 1986 Iowa Women’s Health Study.