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Sugary pop nearly doubles pancreatic cancer risk February 8, 2010

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer.
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Drinking two or more soft drinks per week nearly doubles a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, says a new study released Monday that followed over 60,000 people for a period of 14 years.

Researchers examined the risks associated with those who drink sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks, versus those who don’t consume these beverages.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer, and only 5 per cent of people who are diagnosed are known to survive five years later, according to the American Cancer Society. About 3,900 Canadians were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. Globally, that number is about 230,000.

“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,” lead researcher Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota said in a statement. Insulin helps the body metabolize sugar, and is produced in the pancreas.

Pereira and his colleagues followed 60,524 men and women in Singapore for 14 years. Over that period, researchers found:

  • 140 of the volunteers developed pancreatic cancer.
  • An 87 per cent higher risk of developing cancer for those who drank two or more soft drinks per week.
  • No link found between drinking fruit juice and developing pancreatic cancer.

Pereira says the findings would apply to western countries as well.

“Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent healthcare. Favourite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should apply to other western countries,” he said.

He points out that while sugar may be to blame, those who drink sugar-sweetened soda often have other poor health habits.

Jennifer Sygo, a nutritionist with the Cleveland Clinic, says there isn’t the same level of research available for sugar as there is for salt. But she points out guidelines by the American Heart Association, which recommends:

  • Women should not consume more than 25 grams of added sugar a day (6.5 teaspoons);
  • Men should not consume more than 38 grams of added sugar a day (9.5 teaspoons).

Sygo told Canada AM on Monday that just by cutting sugar intake by half, or even one-third, it would make a big difference. For those who just need their sugar fix, she recommends a cup of juice a day, then water or a Perrier if you need some carbonation.

The study appears in the journalm, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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