A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, has linked endometrial cancer to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Although ours is the first study to show this relationship, it is not surprising to see that women who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages had a higher risk of estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer but not estrogen-independent type II endometrial cancer,” said Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., who led this study as a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis. “Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer.”
The study group consisted of 23,039 postmenopausal women who reported dietary intake, demographic information, and medical history in 1986, prior to the cancer diagnosis, as part of the Iowa Women’s Health Study.The rate of sugar sweetened beverage consumption was evaluated by four questions asking usual intake frequency of sugar-sweetened beverages, including 1) Coke®, Pepsi®, or other colas with sugar; 2) caffeine-free Coke®, Pepsi®, or other colas with sugar; 3) other carbonated beverages with sugar (e.g., 7-Up®); and 4) Hawaiian Punch®, lemonade, or other noncarbonated fruit drinks.
“Sugar-free soft drinks” included low-calorie caffeinated and caffeine-free cola (e.g., Pepsi-Free®), and other low-calorie carbonated beverages (e.g., Fresca®, Diet 7-Up®, and Diet Ginger Ale®).
The scientists divided the sugar-sweetened beverage consumption patterns of these women into quintiles, ranging from no intake (the lowest quintile) to between 1.7 and 60.5 servings a week (the highest quintile).
Between 1986 and 2010, 506 type I and 89 type II endometrial cancers were recorded among the women Inoue-Choi and colleagues studied. They did not find any association between type I or type II endometrial cancers and consumption of sugar-free soft drinks, sweets/baked goods, and starch.
“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.”
M. Inoue-Choi, K. Robien, A. Mariani, J. R. Cerhan, K. E. Anderson. Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake and the Risk of Type I and Type II Endometrial Cancer among Postmenopausal Women. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 2013; DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0636