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Sugary drinks up cancer risk, research suggests

July 11, 2019

Though there is no causal link, consuming sugar-based drinks like soda and fruit juice could lead to a higher chance of developing cancer, a new study suggests. Experts suggest a tax hike would help.

Sugar and drinks
Image: picture-alliance/empics/A. Devlin

Consuming sugary drinks is linked to a higher risk of developing cancer, according to a study published on Thursday in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers in France monitored participants' daily consumption of sugar and artificially sweetened beverages, as well as 100% fruit juices.

After a nine-year period, it was noted that a 100-milliliter (3.4-fluid ounce) daily increase of sugar-based drinks led to an 18% increase in the risk of contracting cancer. The team surveyed more than 100,000 adults, with an average of age of 42, 79% of whom were women.

Read more: Sugar tax leaves a bitter taste

The study's observational design means it can show patterns in the data it collects but cannot prove a definitive link between cause and effect, which means scientists could not say that consuming sugary drinks causes cancer.

The study's authors, however, suggested that taxing sugary products could have an effect on lowering cancer rates.

Exhaustive study garners reliable results

"This large, well-designed study adds to the existing evidence that consumption of sugary drinks may be associated with increased risk of some cancers," Graham Wheeler, from Cancer Research UK said.

Both sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices saw a similar higher risk association while sugar-free drinks did not.

Sugar-based drinks are being drunk more than ever across the globe and their consumption is linked to obesity, which itself increases the chances of getting cancer.

The World Health Organization advocates that people should limit their daily intake of sugar to less than 10% of their total energy intake.

jsi/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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