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Sugar-sweetened drinks might boost endometrial cancer risk

Tuesday November 26, 2013
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Postmenopausal women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages were more likely to develop the most common type of endometrial cancer than women who did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages, a study found.

Researchers found postmenopausal women who reported the highest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages had a 78% increased risk for estrogen-dependent type 1 endometrial cancer compared with those at the lowest level. The more sugar-sweetened beverages a woman drank, the higher her risk. The findings were published Nov. 22 on the website of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“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 1 endometrial cancer but not estrogen-independent type 2 endometrial cancer,” Maki Inoue-Choi, PhD, MS, RD, said in a news release. Inoue-Choi, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute, led the study as a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

“Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity,” Inoue-Choi said in the release. “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.”

Inoue-Choi and colleagues used data from 23,039 postmenopausal women who reported dietary intake, demographic information and medical history in 1986, before the cancer diagnosis, as part of the Iowa Women’s Health Study.

Dietary intake was assessed using the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire, which asked study participants to report intake frequency of 127 food items in the previous 12 months. A typical portion size for each food item was provided to give study participants a sense of scale.

The questionnaire included four questions asking usual intake frequency of sugar-sweetened beverages, including carbonated and caffeine-free beverages, as well as noncarbonated fruit drinks.

According to the questionnaire, “sugar-free soft drinks” included low-calorie caffeinated and caffeine-free colas and other low-calorie carbonated beverages. The “sweets and baked goods” category included 13 items in the FFQ, including chocolate, candy bars, candy without chocolate, cookies (home-baked and ready-made), brownies, doughnuts, cakes (home-baked and ready-made), sweet rolls, coffeecakes or other pastries (home-baked and ready-made), and pies (home-baked and ready-made).

The researchers categorized the sugar-sweetened beverage consumption patterns of the study participants into quintiles, ranging from no intake (the lowest quintile), to between 1.7 and 60.5 servings (median 3.3) a week (the highest quintile).

Among the women in the study, 506 type 1 and 89 type 2 endometrial cancers were recorded between 1986 and 2010. The average age at diagnosis was 72.6 and 74.4 for type 1 and type 2, respectively.

Without adjusting for BMI, the researchers found women in the highest quintile were 72% more likely to develop type 1 endometrial cancer compared with women in the lowest quintile. This association became stronger when they adjusted for BMI, with the women with the highest sugar-sweetened beverage consumption 78% more likely to develop type 1 endometrial cancer compared with women with the lowest consumption.

The researchers did not find any association between type 1 or type 2 endometrial cancers and consumption of sugar-free soft drinks, sweets and baked goods or starch. There was no association between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and risk of type 2 endometrial cancer.

“Research has documented the contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to the obesity epidemic,” Inoue-Choi said in the release. “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.”

The authors wrote more research is needed to replicate the findings because the study appears to be the first to show the association between high sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and endometrial cancer.

Full study PDF: http://bit.ly/1fDKmnu


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