"These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice, as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence". Artificially sweetened drinks, like diet soda, were not associated with increased cancer risks, they found.
When the group of "sugary" drinks was split into fruit juices and other sugary drinks, the consumption of both beverage types was associated with a higher overall risk of cancer. These data suggest an association between sugary drinks and tumors.
Touvier said her team observed that sugar seemed to be the main driver of the link.
Possible explanations include the effect of the sugar contained in sugary drinks on visceral fat (stored around vital organs such as the liver and pancreas), blood sugar levels, and inflammatory markers, all of which are linked to increased cancer risk.
Another possibility is that additives, such as 4-methylimidazole, which is found in drinks that contain caramel coloring, could play a role in cancer formation.
Are you a fan of sugary drinks?
Responding to the study, the American Beverage Association stressed the safety of sugary drinks. She continued saying that America's leading beverage companies are working to reduce the sugar consumers intake from their beverages by offering more possibilities with less or zero sugar.
This isn't the first study we've seen linking cancer and candies. The authors warned that this finding should be interpreted with caution, as this type of beverage had a relatively low consumption among the study participants. Studies have indeed shown that people who drink the most sugary drinks (about 185 ml per day) are more likely to have cancer than those who drink the least (less than 30 ml per day).
So, if they all drank an extra 100ml a day, it would result in four more cancers - taking the total to 26 per 1,000 per five years, according to the researchers.
"All current sweeteners in use have been through rigorous safety testing before being acceptable for human use", said Collins, who was not involved in the study.
For the new study, the research team looked at 101,257 healthy French adults - 79% women and 21% men who participated in the ongoing French NutriNet-Santé study. The participants were asked these questions for nine years (from 2009 to 2018).
Participants completed at least two 24-hour online validated dietary questionnaires, created to measure usual intake of 3,300 different food and beverage items and were followed up for a maximum of nine years.
Researchers set out to assess the associations between the consumption of sugary drinks (sugar sweetened beverages and 100 per cent fruit juices), artificially sweetened (diet) beverages, and risk of overall cancer, as well as breast, prostate, and bowel (colorectal) cancers. Average age at cancer diagnosis was 59 years.
Drinking just one small glass of all-natural fruit juices may increase your risk of developing cancer by as much as 18%, a large-scale study has found.