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Sodas may be linked to higher risk of pancreatic cancer, but about that risk...

February 8, 2010 |  4:24 pm

SodaSugar-sweetened sodas -- with their high-glycemic load eliciting natural suspicion -- have been linked with varying degrees of success to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. So scientists have been trying to clarify the precise nature and size of that risk.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health noted that most of the studies along these lines have been in people of European descent. So they decided to cull through data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, assessing whether sugar-sweetened soft drinks and juices had a noticeable effect in a different population.

Yes on soft drinks, they concluded; no on juices. In fact, they said, consumption of two or more soft drinks a week was linked to an 87% increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Here's the abstract, published online today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and the press release from the American Assn. for Cancer Research, which publishes the journal.

And here's a more thorough explanation -- from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network -- of pancreatic cancer risk as it relates to nutrition. (Pity the poor pancreas having to respond to heavy doses of sugar.)

It's worth pointing out that the average person's risk of pancreatic cancer is low, so even a doubled risk would be little reason to panic. It's also worth noting that people who drink a lot of soda probably aren't health and nutrition zealots.

As the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network notes, wisely and cautiously, in its information about glycemic load: "Additional investigation is needed."

Here are pancreatic cancer statistics and risk factors from the American Cancer Society, plus overall cancer cases and deaths in the United States.

All that being said, pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate, so anything we learn about the disease -- or any clues we have to its development and progression -- is welcome. The new findings may be a clue.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Eric Boyd / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (8)

Carbonated sugar water is also linked to Type II diabetes and obesity.

Does pancreatitis have anything to do with soda too? Because I had a bout of that this last year and I am pretty young. Never found out what it was caused by, maybe this is the case?

And whats with legal products killing people?
Soda- pancreatic cancer now
Cigs- lung cancer
alcohol- liver cancer and kidney problems

I think its time to legalize weed. I' just saying, it helped when i was sick with pancreatitis.

"It's also worth noting that people who drink a lot of soda probably aren't health and nutrition zealots. "

Well, this isn't always the case: what if someone does drink a lot of soda but exercises regularly and stays away from cheeseburgers and pizzas?

I drink sugar sweetened soda and tea daily, since I was a child .. I am sixty., not overweight nor sickly, at most you can claim I am nearsighted.. and I do not have diabieties nor pancreatic cancer, nor does anyone in my family suffer from these or any other serious problems. The scary-dangerous food is dairy and wheat.

It's quite simple - avoid all carbohydrates. Carbohydrate intake is directly related to obesity, heart disease, cancer, alzheimer's and other chronic diseases. These "diseases of civilization" have the common thread of insulin, which is driven up by blood sugar, which is driven up by carbohydrates.

Thanks. It always bears remembering that correlation does not equal causation.

Considering that sugar, real sugar, is almost unknown in modern day sodas. Perhaps the fickle finger of blame may need to make a shift over to shed some of its light on High Fructose Corn Syrup, as that's a very viable suspect.

The problem is that the corn industry is adept at buying off problematic studies and has a strong lobby (i.e. try to Google: "Monsanto + Roundup" to see this at work) that's working posting good news blurbs to keep them out of that light mentioned above, so an effort at getting them to cooperate is going to be interesting.

The combination of sodium benzoate and citric acid is said to produce: benzene; a carcinogen.


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