To Reduce Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Can the Soda Pop and Sugar


ADD SODA POP TO THE LIST of foods to cut back on to reduce your cancer risk. A large new Swedish study connects drinking lots of soft drinks to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, a relatively rare but deadly form of tumor. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute reported that people who said they drink five or more soft drinks daily had nearly double the risk of pancreatic cancer of those consuming none. A significant increase in risk was seen only for those drinking two or more sodas per day.

The prospective study used food questionnaires and data from two study groups totaling more than 75,000 men and women without cancer or diabetes, followed for more than seven years. The researchers did not distinguish between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened diet sodas. In a related finding, however, they specifically linked increased pancreatic risk to sugar consumption: People who added five or more servings of sugar (one teaspoon or one lump equals one serving) to their diet daily had a 69% increased risk compared to non-sugar users.

The investigators suggested that sugar's ability to boost insulin levels could be the culprit, as scientists believe pancreatic-cancer risk rises when the pancreas must work to produce extra insulin. Hyperinsulinemia, a condition of high insulin levels that can be induced by sugar consumption, has been shown to increase blood flow and cell division in the pancreas. High insulin levels can also boost the availability of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that has been shown to stimulate the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in the laboratory.

"It's a very large study, but it's only the first one and so of course we will need more to be done," lead author Susanna Larsson, MSc, told, an industry Web site. She called on beverage makers to reduce the sugar content of their soft drinks and warned that so-called "energy drinks" would likely have the same effect as soft drinks.

TO LEARN MORE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2006, abstract at .

High Blood Sugar Could Boost Cancer Risk
Does your blood-sugar level affect your risk of cancer? Another new Swedish study, published in Diabetes Care, suggests the answer may be yes. Examing data on nearly 65,000 adults, researchers found that, among women, total cancer risk increased as blood-sugar levels (glucose) rose. Women with the highest fasting glucose levels had up to a 75% greater relative risk of cancer compared with those at the lowest levels. While there was no significant link between total cancer risk and blood-sugar levels in men, both men and women did show a significant association between hyperglycemia (high glucose) and increased risk of cancers of the pancreas, endometrium and urinary tract and of malignant melanoma.

TO LEARN MORE: Diabetes Care, March 2007; abstract at .

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