We know excess sugar consumption is tied to a whole host of negative health effects; it has been linked to everything from Type 2 diabetes to ADHD and various forms of cancer. Sugary drinks, including sodas, juices, and energy drinks, make up a large portion of the sugary calories in the average American diet. The most recent study on sugary drinks suggests that women who consume the most of these beverages are at an increased risk of estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer.
The research, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, followed more than 23,000 women, asking them about their various food and drink consumption over a period of 13 months. The researchers were particularly interested in sugary sodas, non-carbonated sugary drinks, and sugar-free beverages. They also tracked the consumption of baked goods and starchy foods.
Most notable of their findings: women who consumed more than four servings of sugary drinks each week had a 78% greater risk of developing endometrial cancer than the women who drank none. They also found women who were older, had higher BMIs, later menopause, estrogen therapy, and a history of diabetes to be at an increased risk.
The researchers reportedly weren’t surprised, but they may have been slightly surprised to find the link between sugar-free drinks, sugary baked goods, or starchy foods didn’t exist.
“One possibility is that sugar from whole foods comes with other nutrients, such as fiber,” said the study author Maki Inoue-Choi. “Sugar from beverages doesn’t come with these nutrients.”
In other words, these beverages have absolutely no redeeming qualities.
“Research has documented the contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to the obesity epidemic,” said Inoue-Choi. “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.”
The link between sugary drinks and endometrial cancer was there even when the researchers accounted for body weight, physical activity levels, cigarette smoking, and a history of diabetes. Of course, this piece of research is far from drawing a conclusive connection – though there is no question that sugar consumption increases the risk of various disease and fuels cancer cells.
Endometrial cancer affects around 50,000 women in the U.S. each year. About 8,000 women die from it annually.