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What to make of the connection between soft drinks and cancer February 10, 2010

Posted by Jolie McCullough in diseases, study.
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Well, I took a long break over the winter, but I am back to provide you with thoughts on the most recent health research news! Today’s topic: How worried should you be about pancreatic cancer if you drink soft drinks regularly?

A recent study from medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention says that having more than two sodas a week may double your risk to develop pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly cancers in our society.

Mark Pereira, senior author of the study and associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, said this could be because¬† high sugar levels in soft drinks may increase the body’s insulin level; however, fruit juices had no effect in this study, which often contain a plethora of sugar.

It is fairly common knowledge that many juices contain just as much sugar as a Coca-Cola if not more. For example, one chart shows that 12 ounces of a Coca-Cola contains as much sugar as apple juice (10 tsp), and less sugar than grape juice (15 tsp).

So, if sugar is the reason, why don’t fruit juices increase the risk of cancer as well? It seems as if there are some variables that may have affected this study besides soft drinks.

Susan Mayne,  associate director of the Yale Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, agrees that research on this issue may not be over yet.

“Although this study found a risk, it remains unclear whether it is a causal association or not. Soft drink consumption in Singapore was associated with several other adverse health behaviors such as smoking and red meat intake, which we can’t accurately control for,” she said.

Still, we all know sodas aren’t good for us, and it wouldn’t kill any of us to try to cut back a bit. Whether smoking or anything else affected the results, the truth remains that those who drank two or more soft drinks per week (averaging 5 per week) during the study had an 87 percent increased risk compared with those who did not.

And with pancreatic cancer, the risks are even greater. Although cancer of the pancreas is barely within the top 10 most common cancers in the U.S., it is the fourth deadliest since it has the ability to spread quietly. Most are not diagnosed until the cancer has already spread, making it nearly impossible to fully treat, according to WebMD.

So whether you’re convinced or not, it may be a good idea to keep this study in mind next time you pop open a Coke.

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