sugary drinks and bowel cancer risk

New research has discovered a possible link between sugary drinks and an increased bowel cancer risk in women. The observational study suggested that drinking two or more sugary drinks a day increased the risk of bowel cancer in those under the age of 50.

Here we will look at the possible link discovered and how diet can potentially impact our cancer risk.

What did the observational study find?

The observational study included information of 95,464 women from the Nurse’s Health Study II. This is an ongoing study, including a total of 116,429 US female nurses. It began in 1989 and participants were aged 25 to 42 at the start of the study.

A food questionnaire was filled out every four years. This aimed to look at what participants were eating and drinking. Around 41,200 women documented what they ate, alongside how much they drank during adolescence. Other potential bowel cancer risks were also assessed, such as family history, vitamin supplements, and frequent use of aspirin and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.

Over 24 years, 109 women went on to develop bowel cancer before they turned 50 years of age. It was also identified that those who did develop cancer were more likely to drink a lot of sugary drinks in adulthood.

This link isn’t new, but it may help to learn more about the potential causes of the disease. Some experts are also wary of the findings. It only included women, and of the 109 who developed bowel cancer, only 16 of them reported drinking over a pint of sugary drinks each day. Due to only a small percentage of participants developing bowel cancer, it is difficult to draw conclusions based upon the evidence presented in the study alone.

Sugary drinks also linked to other health issues

Sugary drinks have long been known to contribute towards numerous health problems. As well as their link to bowel cancer, they can also lead to the following health issues:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Heart disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Non-alcoholic liver disease

It isn’t just sugar that can lead to these health issues. Drinks with sweeteners in are equally as bad for the health as sugary drinks.

How diet impacts your bowel cancer risk

While there is some evidence to suggest sugary drinks increase bowel cancer risk under the age of 50, other dietary factors play more of a role.
Processed and red meat are also linked to an increased risk of cancer. Current guidance is to consume no more than 70g of processed and red meat each day. Even moderate meat eating has been shown to increase cancer risk. Processed meat has been given a Group 1 classification, meaning it is a definite cause of cancer.

What you eat can greatly impact your cancer risk. While the latest study doesn’t produce compelling evidence that sugary drinks cause bowel cancer early, they should definitely be limited. When you consume more than a pint of sugary drinks each day, it greatly increases your risk of several health issues.

For more advice on managing bowel cancer, call 02031372892 to arrange a consultation with Dr Jamie Murphy.