A Possible Association Between Consuming Sweet Drinks and Endometrial Cancer

Americans love their sodas and sweet coffee beverages that taste more like melted ice cream than caffeine delivery systems. But for one group, drinking too many sugary drinks might pose a cancer risk.

As reported in the New York Times, a new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk for cancer in the lining of the uterus of postmenopausal women.

Earlier research showed an association between sugary drinks and Type 2 diabetes, but this study is the first to find the same association with a specific type of endometrial cancer.

Although the journal authors were careful to advise that women not change their behavior based on these findings before additional studies confirm them, it’s generally a good idea to minimize consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages both for tooth health and weight control. Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

The study began in 1986 and involved 23,039 women whose mean age was 62. They completed detailed questionnaires on lifestyle, medical history and diet. Participants were followed annually to 2010 to determine their incidence of cancer. During that period, 506 were diagnosed with Type 1 endometrial cancers and 89 with Type 2, a more serious form of the disease.

The study concluded that all sugars increased the risk for Type 1 endometrial cancer, but sugar-sweetened drinks had the greatest effect. Women who were in the highest one-fifth of sugary drink consumption had a 74% higher risk than those in the lowest one-fifth. So the higher the consumption, the higher the risk of Type 1, but not Type 2, endometrial cancer.

As The Times summarized, compared with most other dietary sugars, those consumed in beverages cause plasma glucose (blood sugar) levels to rise higher and fall lower. Such fluctuations, the researchers speculate, might play a role in the increased risk of cancer.

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