The ill-effects of sugary soft drinks has been well documented but new research continues to show just how bad such beverages can be for you, especially over the long term. Now, according to a just-released Swedish study, drinking even one normal-sized soda per day can boost a man's chances of developing more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
"Among the men who drank a lot of soft drinks or other drinks with added sugar, we saw an increased risk of prostate cancer of around 40 percent," said Isabel Drake, a PhD student at Lund University, according to Agence France Presse.
The study, which will be published in the upcoming edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed more than 8,000 men aged 45 to 73 for about 15 years on average. Those who drank one 11-fluid-ounce (330 ml) soft drink per day were 40 percent more likely to develop the more serious forms of prostate cancer that ultimately required treatment.
The cancer among the study's all-male participants was discovered after they showed symptoms of disease, not through a screening process known as Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA).
Other risk factors exist, but soda is the worst
Other factors led to increases in the incidence of prostate cancer. Those who consumed a diet heavy in rice and pastas boosted their risk of getting milder forms of the disease, which often did not require any treatment, by some 31 percent. Those who had a high intake of sugary breakfast cereals, meanwhile, raised the rates of the milder forms by 38 percent, Drake told the French newswire service.
The men in the study underwent regular medical exams and kept a journal of what they ate and drank.
In previous studies, Chinese and Japanese immigrants to the United States were shown to have developed prostate cancer more often than peers who remain in their home countries.
Researchers said further study is needed before any recommendations for dietary changes could be made. But they noted there are already a number of reasons why a person ought to cut back on sugary soft drinks.
Drake said additional research on how genes respond to different types of diets would make it possible to "tailor food and drink guidelines for certain high-risk groups."
Previous studies have shown other links between sugary sodas and cancer.
A study published in 2010, in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found that people who drink two high-calorie soft drinks a week have nearly twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, compared to those who drink less.
Soda is filled with cancer danger
Researchers tracked 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years, finding that those who drank soda boosted their risk of contracting the largely fatal cancer by a staggering 87 percent. The figure held up even when smoking and some other bad habits were taken into account, The Washington Post reported.
Scientists did not examine the effects of so-called diet sodas, but only those soft drinks that were defined as "sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages."
Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study denoted that lifestyles in Singapore were similar to those in the U.S. Researchers said the findings should apply to Caucasians as well as to Asians who were tracked.
Lead author Mark Pereira, an associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, hinted that high sugar levels in soda likely boost insulin levels in the body, which in turn could trigger the development of pancreatic cancer cells.
Besides cancer, high-fructose corn syrup-infused drinks also contribute mightily to obesity, diabetes and, ultimately, heart disease.
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