A new study led by Washington University School of Medicine in the US has found a link between consuming sugary drinks and an increased risk of colorectal cancer among women under 50. The findings could help explain the rising rates of colorectal cancer among younger adults.
The study, published in the journal Gut, provides more support for public health efforts that encourage people to reduce the amount of sugar they consume.
Compared with women who drank less than one 8-ounce serving per week of sugar-sweetened beverages, those who drank two or more servings per day had just over twice the risk of developing early-onset colorectal cancer, meaning it was diagnosed before age 50. The researchers calculated a 16% increase in risk for each 8-ounce serving per day.
And from ages 13 to 18, an important time for growth and development, each daily serving was linked to a 32% increased risk of eventually developing colorectal cancer before age 50.
Sugar-sweetened drink consumption has been linked to metabolic health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, including in children. But less is known about whether such high-sugar beverages could have a role in the increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in younger people.
While sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to an increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer, some other drinks — including milk and coffee — were associated with a decreased risk. This observational study can’t demonstrate that drinking sugary beverages causes this type of cancer or that drinking milk or coffee is protective, but the researchers said that replacing sweetened beverages with unsweetened drinks, such as milk and coffee, is a better choice for long-term health.