Soda linked to cancer

People who down two or more soft
drinks a week may have almost double the risk of developing deadly pancreatic
cancer, compared to non-soda drinkers, new research suggests.

But the overall number of people developing
the malignancy remains low, with the US National Cancer Institute estimating
42,470 new cases last year.

Although the study did not differentiate
between regular and diet soda, it was conducted in Singapore, where most soda
consumed is regular, Dr. Mueller said.

The analysis involved more than
60,000 middle-aged or older Chinese Singaporeans. Researchers calculated how
much juice and soda the participants drank on average and followed them for 14
years to see how many developed cancer of the pancreas.

Those who drank two or more sodas a
week were 87 per cent more likely to develop this kind of tumour than
individuals who did not consume any soda.

“Soft drinks are linked with a
higher risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Noel Mueller, lead author of a
study appearing in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers &
Prevention.

“We can’t speculate too much
on the mechanism because this is an observational study, but the increased risk
may be working through effects of the hormone insulin.”

Still, the report should not cause
undue alarm, some say.

“The study was well designed
but smaller than some previous studies that did not find a link between
sugar-sweetened soft drinks and pancreatic cancer,” noted Eric Jacobs,
strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society.
“Direct evidence linking sugar-sweetened soft drinks to pancreatic cancer
remains limited.”

Previous research in US and
European populations has suggested an association between sweetened sodas and
juices and pancreatic cancer. This is the first study to examine the
association in an Asian population, although the authors feel the findings can
be extrapolated to Western nations.

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