Soft Drinks Increase
Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
Consuming two or more soft drinks per week increased the risk of
developing pancreatic cancer by nearly twofold compared to individuals
who did not consume soft drinks, according to a report in Cancer
Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American
Association for Cancer Research.
Although relatively rare, pancreatic cancer remains one of the
most deadly, and 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 School of Public Health at the University of
Minnesota, said people who consume soft drinks on a regular basis,
defined as primarily carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages, tend
to have a poor behavioral profile overall.
However, the effect of these drinks on pancreatic cancer may
"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 Pereira.
For the current study, 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 (averaging five
per week) had an 87 percent increased risk compared with individuals
who did not.
No association was seen between fruit juice consumption and pancreatic
Pereira said that these results from Singapore are likely applicable
to the United States.
"Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent health care.
Favorite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should
apply to other western countries," said Pereira.
Susan Mayne, Ph.D., associate director of the Yale Cancer Center
and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health,
said these study results are intriguing but have some key limitations
that should be considered in any interpretation.
"Although this study found a risk, the finding was based
on a relatively small number of cases and 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," said Mayne, an editorial board member of Cancer Epidemiology,
Biomarkers & Prevention.
Pereira points out that the findings are biologically plausible,
held up in non-smokers, remained similar after taking other dietary
habits into account and are consistent with findings in Caucasian
February 8, 2010