Sugary Sodas, Juices Tied to Higher Cancer Risk

So, why the connection? According to Touvier’s team, high-calorie drinks may raise cancer risk because sugar helps build body fat, in addition to raising blood sugar levels and inflammation — all of which are risk factors for cancer.

It’s also possible that chemicals found in these drinks might play a part in increasing cancer risk, the researchers theorized.

A group representing the beverage industry said sugary drinks can still be a part of the average diet, however.

In a statement, the American Beverage Association said: “It’s important for people to know that all beverages — either with sugar or without — are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet. America’s leading beverage companies are working together to support consumers’ efforts to reduce the sugar they consume from our beverages by providing more choices with less sugar or zero sugar, smaller package sizes and clear calorie information right up front.”

Samantha Heller is a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. She said she wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“Do we really need more evidence that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages regularly is not healthy?” Heller said. She noted that, for decades, these drinks have been linked with diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

On the other hand, “most of us should be drinking more water than we do,” Heller said. “Being poorly hydrated can affect us in surprising ways. It can impair our driving skills, cognitive abilities, mood, energy levels, kidneys, gastrointestinal function, appearance and more.”

Study author Touvier agreed.

“The only beverage that is recommended is water,” she said. And Touvier supports public efforts to get people away from the soda-and-juices habit.

Her team’s findings support “existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drinks consumption, including 100% fruit juices, as well as policy actions such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks,” Touvier said.

And water doesn’t have to be boring, Heller added.

“Play around with infusing water with mint, basil, cucumber, or strawberry and lemon slices. Fill a pitcher with water and pop in your favorite herbal teas like berry, vanilla or peppermint, and chill in the refrigerator,” she suggested.

The new report was published online July 10 in the BMJ.

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