Fizzy drinks ‘can cause cancer’

High sugar consumption increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a major study carried out by Karolinska Institutet. Large consumers of fizzy drinks and diluted fruit drinks are at greatest risk.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet analysed the dietary habits of the study’s 80,000 participants.

The research team came to the conclusion that people who consume fizzy drinks twice a day or more almost double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Taking sugar in your coffee five times a day increases the risk by 70 per cent.

“Insulin in itself affects cells in the pancreas, and we believe that this is a risk factor for cancer growth,” said Susanna Larsson, one of the researchers behind the study.

Pancreatic cancer is quite an unusual form of cancer but is also one of the most dangerous. As it is difficult to treat the cancerr proves deadly for many of those affected.

The hypothesis put forward by researchers is that the risk of cancer is increased by major sugar consumption, which causes the pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin. It is the first time that a study has demonstrated the relationship between pancreatic cancer and a sweet tooth.

The results were recently published in the November issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This is the first study of its type and its findings cannot be taken as scientific fact until a range of similar studies reach the same conclusions.

The causes of pancreatic cancer are uncertain but studies suggest that tobacco smoking and excessive consumption of fat also increase the risk of developing the condition.

With approximately 900 cases per year, there are fewer instances of pancreatic cancer in Sweden now than there were in the 1980s. But since it is often detected late the prognosis is seldom good. Only three to four per cent of those affected survive more than five years after first receiving a diagnosis.

Swedish sales of fizzy drinks have gone down somewhat since 2001, when the average Swede drank 81 litres per year. But the 2004 total of 76 litres still represents a major increase since the early 1980s, when Swedes drank 41 litres of fizzy drinks per year.

The USA tops the fizzy drinks league with 200 litres per person per year. Next comes Mexico with 151 litres, followed by Ireland (121 litres) and Norway (116 litres).