Sugary Drinks and Cancer Survivors Who Consume Them

Recent findings suggest the implementation of intervention programs that target young males of a lower socio-economic status, non-cancer and cancer survivors, and cervical cancer survivors to help reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and added sugar.

Recent findings suggest the implementation of intervention programs that target young males of a lower socio-economic status, non-cancer and cancer survivors, and cervical cancer survivors to help reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and added sugar.

It’s known that

sugar-sweetened beverage consumption

, and sugar intake in general, are associated with diabetes, obesity, some cancers, and cardio-metabolic diseases.

Researchers wanted to explore the relationship between the risk factors of sugar consumption and both non-cancer and cancer survivors. To do this, they examined data from 22,182 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2012. The findings were published in

Translational Cancer Research

.

“The objective of this study was to closely evaluate the risk factors of sugar consumption from sugar-sweetened beverages among cancer survivors and people not diagnosed with cancer, and to our knowledge, no other studies have examined sugar-sweetened beverage intake in cancer survivors,” said senior study author Melinda Sothern, PhD. “Recently growing evidence suggests a link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the risk of pancreatic and endometrial cancer, as well as the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death among cancer survivors.”

The NHANES measured the consumption of soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas, coffees, fruit-flavored drinks, sweetened fruit juices, and other sugary beverages with cancer status, smoking, and obesity; along with demographic characteristics, including age, race, gender, poverty/income ratio, and education level.

Researchers found that in the overall study population, 15.7% had high sugar intake from sugar-sweetened drinks. Individuals without a history of cancer had a higher sugar intake than cancer survivors, although it’s noted that this could be due to other factors, such as gender and older age.

In women with a history of cervical cancer, sugar intake from sweetened beverages was considerably higher (60g/day) compared with other cancer survivors who only consumed around 30 to 40g per day. Additionally, individuals with a high sugar intake (80g/day sugar) from sweetened beverages were found to be younger, male, black, obese, current smokers, low-income, or with education levels at or below high school.

“Although consuming added sugar is not recommended, people are not usually aware of how much sugar they get from sugar-sweetened beverages,” said lead study author Tung-Sung Tseng, DrPH. “The American Heart Association recommends a consumption goal of no more than 450 kilocalories (kcal) of sugar-sweetened beverages or fewer than three 12-ounce cans of soda per week.”

The study authors noted that their findings indicated that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption behavior varies among cancer types, and may be related to age. They suggest that intervention programs to reduce the consumption of sugar or sugary drinks should primarily focus on lower socio-economic status young males, cervical cancer survivors, and cancer and non-cancer survivors. Furthermore, researchers recommend that custom interventions be conducted for both non-cancer individuals and cancer survivors in communities and the medical care system.