According to The New York Times, researchers have been stumped on why colon and rectal cancers are rising in young adults. People born circa 1990 are twice as likely to get colon cancer and four times as likely to get rectal cancer than those born around 1950.
A new study published in the medical journal Gut suggests that sweet drinks like soda may be a contributing factor. The study followed 94,464 female registered nurses between 1991 and 2015 from the ages of 25 to 42 to analyze the connection between sugary drinks and colorectal cancer. 41,272 nurses’ intake of sweet drinks from the ages of 13 to 18 were also examined.
The study concluded that individuals who drank two or more eight-ounce servings of sugary drinks a week doubled their risk for the cancers. Every additional serving of these drinks increased color or rectal cancer risk by 16 percent. The risk doubles to 32 percent when consumed in adolescence.
While the study could not prove cause and effect of sugary drinks and cancers, the association between the two is clear. Assistant professor of epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health Nour Makarem said, “This is robust evidence, novel evidence that higher intakes of soda are involved in a higher risk for colorectal cancer. We know that sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to weight gain, glucose dysregulation and so on, which are also risk factors. So there’s a plausible mechanism that underlies these relationships.” However, she was not a part of the study.
The reason for the connection between the two isn’t clear, but associate professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Yin Cao, hypotheses that weight gain could be responsible for the increased risk. However, studies that have found high fructose corn syrup increases the risk of colon cancer in mice regardless of their weight.
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