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Soda Consumption Doubles Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

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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.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Lynnette -The more I learn about how our food is produced, the more alarming the information becomes. It seems odd to be a grown adult and to not have realized how we went from family farms to mass production of processed foods with questionable nutritional value and multiple chemical additions. Yes, a grassroots effort at education and systematic change is needed...if people can be torn away from processed and fast food long enough to listen. :-)

February 10, 2010 - 5:51pm

Hi Pat- Researchers tell us that most cancers are a direct response of genetic and lifestyle factors. The more I learn about our current food delivery system the more I am alarmed about how everyday foods are making society ill. Cancer appears to have been with humans for eons. Early human fossils have shown evidence of cancer, but the rate of cancer diagnoses in today's society is alarming. Collectively, we need to address the way food is grown, distributed and prepared/processed. Warning labels are useful in educating the public, but they have little effect on deterrence. It would be more cost effective to allow us to eat foods that were truly healthful rather than pushing cheap processed foods on the public and suffering the consequences in astronomical health costs down the road. Clearly, this will need to be a grassroots effort if we are to ever realize systematic change.

February 10, 2010 - 10:19am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Lynette - It would be interesting to find out if people would be willing to give up their soft drinks in order to protect their health. Perhaps one day they will carry a warning label, just like cigarettes. Thanks for this information! Pat

February 9, 2010 - 5:14pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.