Sugary Drinks: A Possible Cause of Cancer

The consumption of sugary drinks continues to increase all over the world. Fruit juices, sodas, and other sugary drinks are responsible for an increased risk of cancer among consumers. Rising for several decades around the world, but particularly in the West, the consumption of sugary drinks is already associated with an increased risk of obesity, a condition that is itself recognized as contributing to the increase in cancer risk. It is also associated with a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and a higher risk of hypertension or heart disease, among others.

Sweet Drinks

Sweet Drinks

Why it’s important

The link between the consumption of sugary drinks (sodas, fruit juices, etc.) and the risks of obesity, diabetes, infarction, accelerated aging, premature death, and renal failure are starting to gain popularity. But what about their potential liability for cancer? A French study published in the British Medical Journal provides some answers.

The NutriNet-Santé study

Researchers from the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team (Eren) wanted to evaluate the less-studied link between sugary drinks and the risk of cancer. They published the results of their work in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The NutriNet-Santé study was conducted on more than 100,000 healthy adult French adults, 79% of whom were women and 21% men (mean age 42 years). For 9 years, participants had to answer questionnaires on their consumption of 3,300 different products and beverages, including 97 soft drinks and 12 beverages with sweeteners.


They found that an increase in the consumption of sugary drinks was clearly associated with the overall risk of cancer and breast cancer. Men are more likely to drink sugary drinks on a daily basis than women, with 90.3 ml consumed daily compared with 74.6 ml for women.

In all, during the follow-up, 2193 cases of cancer were diagnosed for people aged about 59, including 693 cases of breast cancer, 291 cases of prostate cancer, and 166 cases of colorectal cancer.

The most striking result is that the mere consumption of a small glass of about 100 ml of sugary drink per day would increase the risk of cancer (all types) by 18% and 22% breast cancer.

An increase of 100 ml per day on average in the consumption of sugary drinks, which corresponds to a small glass or about a third of standard can [330 ml in Europe and 355 ml in North America], is associated with an 18% increase in cancer risk.

One thing that may surprise you is that the increased risk of cancer is present whether it’s sweet drinks or pure fruit juice without added sugar, according to the study.

What do the researchers suggest?

The same researchers suggest that sweetened beverages, which are widely consumed in Western countries, could be a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention. This is the good news: it is a food habit that everyone has the power to change.

While it’s easy to understand that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can only be beneficial, taking action seems less simple. It is not easy to get rid of this, but over time, we can get there by gradually reducing the quantities and frequency.

References  Eloi Chazelas, Bernard Srour, Elisa Desmetz, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot, Chantal Julia, Valérie Deschamps, Nathalie Druesne-Pecollo, Pilar Galan, Serge Hercberg, Paule Latino-Martel, Mélanie Deschasaux, Mathilde Touvier. Sugary drink consumption and risk of cancer: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohortBMJ, 2019; l2408 DOI:




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