Soda Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

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Sugary soft drinks can contribute to weight gain, dental problems, and other maladies, which should be impetus enough to cut back or eliminate those beverages. If not, a new study suggests that downing popular soda could enhance pancreatic cancer risk significantly, according to US News and World Report (US News). Of the tens of thousands of people diagnosed, some 80 percent will die from this disease, one of the deadliest known cancers.

The study, consisting of 60,524 Singapore participants over a 14 year duration, found that people who drank two or more sugared sodas weekly, had an 87 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, said US News. The study’s lead author, Mark Pereira, from the University of Minnesota, explained that soda sugar might be the culprit, according to US News.

Sugar, in large amounts, can increase the body’s insulin level and prompt cell cancer growth, according to Reuters. But another expert countered the study, saying that only 140 participants developed cancer, and that other risk factors such as smoking, could be to blame, wrote US News. The research findings appear in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Referring to study subjects, Dr. Pereira said, “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 factoring in age, weight, diabetes, and smoking, the 87 percent increase was seen, said CBS News. The findings did not include diet drinks or fruit juice.

High amounts of  soda sugar, said the team, can create challenges for the pancreas, CBS news reports. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, balances the body’s sugar level; 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 American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that its 2009 U.S. pancreatic cancer figures indicate that about 42,470 people (21,050 men and 21,420 women) will be diagnosed with the disease by next year. Of these, about 35,240 (18,030 men and 17,210 women) will die. Despite mortality rate improvements, pancreatic cancer remains the fourth leading cause of overall cancer death.

Those statistics should be incentive for all soda addicts.