How sugary drinks might raise a woman's risk of endometrial cancer

Cancer risk higher for women who
drink sugary beverages
Women who are postmenopausal may be increasing their risk of the most common type of cancer of the uterus, endometrial cancer, according to an observational study.

Researchers compared women with high intake of sugar-laden beverages to find the link. 

The increase in endometrial cancer was 78 percent higher for women who drank the most sugary beverages. 

The study finding, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, isn't a surprise, said  Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., who led this study as a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

"Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer," the researcher explained. 

 It's important to note the finding doesn't prove soft drinks and other beverages with sugar cause cancer of the uterus. Large controlled studies are needed before any recommendations could be made for women about dietary factors that might contribute to the disease. 

The study

For the study, the researchers used data from 23, 039 women who were part of the Iowa Women's Health Study. 

The women self-reported their intake of sugary soft drinks including Cola and non-carbonated fruit drinks such as lemonade and fruit punch. The researchers also looked at the women's intake of low-calorie and sugar-free or "diet" drinks. 

The highest amount of the beverages consumed by women was 60.5 servings a week and the lowest was 1.7 servings. 

Included in the analysis was how often the women ate baked good, candies and other foods with sugar. 

Between 1986 and 2010 there were 506 type I and 89 type II (non-estrogen dependent) endometrial cancers diagnosed that correlated with intake of sugar sweetened beverages.

Cancer risk was not found to be higher among women who reported eating sweet foods.

 Inoue-Choi said in a press release: “Too much added sugar can boost a person’s overall calorie intake and may increase the risk of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”

Soft drink consumption has been targeted as a cause for rising rates of obesity. 

According to the National Cancer Institute women can lower their risk of endometrial cancer by eating a diet low in saturated fat, high in fruits and vegetables and possibly by consuming soy products. 

Combination oral contraceptives, physical activity and breast feeding are also thought to reduce a woman's risk of endometrial cancer. 

Clinical trials are currently being conducted to find out exactly how diet and other lifestyle factors can help with prevention. The current study is the first to find a link between drinking sugary soft drinks and endometrial cancer; specifically estrogen dependent cancer of the uterus. Whether sugary drinks do cause endometrial cancer will require more studies. 



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