There’s more bad news for connoisseurs of sugary soft drinks and the companies that produce them.
A report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, found that people who consume two or more soft drinks per week nearly double their risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to individuals who refrain from drinking them.
Pancreatic cancer is very deadly, with only 5 percent of people who are diagnosed are alive five years later.
Mark Pereira, Ph.D., senior author on the study and associate professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said people who consume soft drinks on a regular basis, defined primarily as carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages, tend to have a poor health profile overall.
However, the effect of these drinks on pancreatic cancer may be unique.
“The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth,” said Dr. Pereira.
There was no association made between fruit juice consumption and pancreatic cancer.
For the current study, Dr. Pereira and colleagues followed 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years. During that time, there were 140 pancreatic cancer cases. Those who consumed two or more soft drinks per week and averaging five per week, had an 87 percent increased risk compared with individuals who did not.
Dr. Pereira said the results from Singapore are likely to be applicable to Americans.
“Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent health care," he said. "Favorite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should apply to other western countries.”
Last September, a team of prominent doctors, scientists and policy makers urged the federal government to consider a tax on sugary drinks that they say could be a powerful weapon in efforts to reduce obesity and other ill-health effects, in the same way that cigarette taxes have helped curb smoking.