Your favourite drink may give you cancer
A QUEENSLAND public health expert has called on sugary drinks to be treated like tobacco and alcohol, as bombshell new findings show that consuming just a third of a can per day increases cancer risk of up to 22 per cent.
And while 100 per cent fruit juices also showed a higher risk of cancer there were no cancer links found in artificially sweetened diet drinks.
The research comes as the Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia calls for a shock tactics like those used in the anti-smoking campaign to tackle the rising obesity scourge in the state.
Queensland's Professor Lennert Veerman, Discipline lead of Public Health in the School of Medicine at Griffith University, says the research, published in the British Medical Journal is the "first to convincingly link these drinks directly to cancer risk".
In the extensive study French researchers examined 3300 food and drink items over a maximum of nine years in 100,000 participants.
They found that a 100ml increased intake of sugary drinks was associated with an 18 per cent increased risk of overall cancer and a 22 per cent increase in the risk of breast cancer.
"Much of the cancer risk is likely to arise via obesity. This points once again to the need to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks for health," Prof Veerman said.
"Sugar should be treated much like alcohol and tobacco. While an information campaign would be helpful, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on its own.
"Taxation and advertising restrictions are probably also needed.
"Modelling studies have shown that both can lead to large improvements in health.
"They are likely to be good for the economy too - a healthy population is a more productive population."
Average daily consumption of sugary drinks was greater in men than in women.
Men consumed 90.3ml and women 74.6ml. During follow-up, 2193 first cases of cancer were diagnosed and validated.
This is an observational study, so can't establish cause, and the authors say they cannot rule out some misclassification of beverages or guarantee detection of every new cancer case.
Nevertheless, the study sample was large and they were able to adjust for a wide range of potentially influential factors. Also the results were largely unchanged after further testing, suggesting that the findings withstand scrutiny.
"The authors conclude that the sugary drinks widely consumed as part of our so-called 'western' diet represent an opportunity for cancer prevention," Professor Margaret Morris from the School of Medical Sciences and Head of the Environmental Determinants of Obesity Group at the University of New South Wales said.