Too much soda = pancreatic cancer?


Soda, Pop, Soft Drinks, Fizzy Lifting Drink—whatever you might call it—apparently can be bad for you, and not because it could screw up your weight-loss goals, or rot all your teeth. A recent study attempted to link soda consumption to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.As a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and National University of Singapore, the study looked at about 60,000 middle-aged or older Singaporeans. Researchers calculated the average juice and soda intake of the participants, and followed them for 14 years to see how many developed pancreatic cancer. Those who drank two or more sodas a week (the average number was 5) were 87 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than the participants who were non-soda drinkers. No link, however, was found between juice consumption and pancreatic cancer risk. But some researchers say this study is nothing to be alarmed about. "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," Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said in BusinessWeek. "Direct evidence linking sugar-sweetened soft drinks to pancreatic cancer remains limited."Of the over 60,000 participants examined in the study, only 140 developed pancreatic cancer, and of that group, only 30 drank soda, resulting in a small population to draw conclusions from. Also, while the study connects sugar and pancreatic cancer, it does not address other sources of sugar in the participants' diets—only soda. The theory is that one's blood sugar levels are elevated from drinking soda, and the associated increase in insulin levels causes pancreatic cells to divide abnormally. Type 2 diabetes has also tentatively been linked to pancreatic cancer.The full study will be published in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.According to the American Cancer Society, about 42,000 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009. That's a relatively small number in comparison to other cancer types, however approximately 66 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of diagnosis. And the five-year survival rate is around five percent. Even without a concrete link, Jacobs says there's still reason to be cautious: "The bottom line is that limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks can help in maintaining a healthy weight, which in turn will reduce risk of many types of cancer and other serious diseases."

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