Sugary Sodas Tied to Pancreatic Cancer

<"">Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest of known cancers and comes with a bleak cure rate. Of the tens of thousands of people diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, some 80 percent will die.

Now, according to US News and World Report (US News), an emerging study suggests that ingesting commonly consumed drinks could up pancreatic cancer risk significantly.

The study team followed 60,524 participants in Singapore over the course of 14 years and found that participants who drank two or more sugared sodas weekly, experienced a whopping 87 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, said US News. Mark Pereira, lead author of the study, from the University of Minnesota, explained that it could be the sugar in the soda that is to blame, according to US News.

In high quantities, sugar could increase the body’s insulin levels and prompt cancer growth in cells, according to Reuters. Another expert did point out that the study might have offered insufficient cases, saying that only 140 of those participating developed cancer, and that other risk factors could be to blame, such as smoking, wrote US News. The study findings appear in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Speaking of the study participants, said Dr. Pereira, “Their risk of getting pancreatic cancer over the time period of the study was almost two times higher than their counterparts who were consuming little or no sugar-sweetened beverages in the study,” quoted CBS News. But, after accounting for a variety of factors, such as age, being weight, having diabetes, and smoking, the 87 percent increase was seen, said CBS News. The study did not look at diet drinks or fruit juice.

The problem, said the team, could be in the high amounts of sugar found in the sodas, which can create challenges for the pancreas, said CBS news. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and works to balance sugar levels in the body; an increase in sugar levels leads to an increase in insulin, explained CBS news.
“Insulin has been shown to promote the growth of most tissues including cancer cells, so that might be the mechanism if this is cause and effect,” said Pereira, quoted CBS news.

The issue with soda over sugar could be linked to consumption amounts, noted CBS News. People tend to drink smaller quantities of juice—eight-to-12 ounces at a time—versus soda—20-to-30 ounces.

Sugar-sweetened sodas, said the LA Times, contain high-glycemic loads. According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, concerning the glycemic load, “Additional investigation is needed.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that its most current figures for pancreatic cancer in the United States, which are for 2009, indicate that about 42,470 people (21,050 men and 21,420 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the next year. Of these, about 35,240 people (18,030 men and 17,210 women) will die of the disease. Despite improvements in mortality rates, pancreatic cancer remains the fourth leading cause of cancer death overall.

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