Drinking sodas and fruit juice increases cancer risk, study finds


Sugary drinks are to be consumed in moderation. – JOEL SAGET / AFP

Drinking more than a small glass of soda or fruit juice a day could promote cancer, according to a study published this Thursday in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The consumption of sugary drinks, which has only increased in recent years, is already associated with an increased risk of obesity, itself recognized as an important risk factor for
Cancer. "We found that an increase in the consumption of sugary drinks was positively associated with the overall risk of cancer and breast cancer," write the authors of the study.

An increased risk of breast cancer

A simple "increase of 100 ml per day on average of the consumption of sugary drinks, which corresponds to a small glass or about a third of a standard can (33 cl), is associated with an 18% increase in the risk of cancer, "says Dr. Mathilde Touvier, director of the research team in nutritional epidemiology Eren (Inserm / Cnam, Paris).

The increase is 22% for breast cancer. The risk is similar, whether
sweet drinks or pure fruit juice without added sugar. These two types of drinks are indeed associated with a higher risk of cancer in general, according to the study. The results suggest a 30% increase in the diagnosis of "all cancers" in the group that consumes the most sugary drinks compared to the one that consumes the least.

"It's the sugar that seems to play the main role in this association with cancer"

Although the study does not demonstrate a causal link, it shows a "significant association," says the researcher. The factors (age, lifestyle, physical activity, smoking …) that could have influenced the results were taken into account. And "it is the sugar that seems to play the main role in this association with cancer," which can not be explained solely by weight gain of study participants.

On the other hand, no link was detected between the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages (with sweeteners) and the risk of cancer in this study, note the authors. However, the statistical power of the analysis on this point is probably limited because of a relatively low consumption of this type of beverage in this population.

Less than a small glass of soda or juice per day

In other words, it is not because a link was not found in this study that there is no risk, says the researcher. "Sweeteners are not an alternative and are clearly not recommended in the long term," adds Mathilde Touvier. Better therefore "reduce sugar. The recommendation in France is less than one (small) glass of fruit juice per day "for example, she recalls.

A sweet drink contains at least 5% sugar; 100 ml of pure orange juice without added sugar about 10 grams of sugar (about two pieces of sugar), and a lot more nectar, she says. For the authors, these results "confirm the relevance of the existing nutritional recommendations to limit the consumption of sugary drinks, including 100% fruit juice, as well as political measures" such as taxes and trade restrictions against them.