Small Daily Servings of Juice or Other Sugary Drinks Linked With Higher Cancer Risk
A new study has found that consuming even just a small serving of soda or 100 percent fruit juice per day can significantly increase your risk of developing cancer.
Drinking as little as 100 ml (3.4 ounces) of a sugary beverage per day was associated with an 18 percent increased general risk of cancer and a 22 percent increased risk of breast cancer, according to the study, which was published this week in the British Medical Journal. Soda cans usually contain between 12 and 16 ounces.
For the study, the researchers examined nine years of nutritional data from more than 100,000 French adults who participated in the ongoing Nutrinet-Santé survey from 2009-2017. The average age of participants was 42 years old and 79 percent were women while 21 percent were men.
The survey required them to fill out questionnaires recalling their consumption over 24 hours of thousands of foods and drinks, of which nearly 100 were sugary drinks such as 100% fruit juice, soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and certain hot beverages, USA Today reported.
During the nine-year survey period, there were 2,193 instances of new cancer diagnoses, including nearly 700 cases of breast cancer. Among the highest quarter for consumption of sugary drinks there was a 30 percent higher risk for cancer than the lowest quarter of participants, and a 37 percent higher risk for breast cancer in particular, The New York Times reported.
The risk persisted even as the researchers accounted for other factors that might impact cancer risk, including demographic information, physical activity, smoking history and family prevalence of cancer.
Lead author Mathilde Touvier said the results do not yet prove that sugary drinks cause cancer, as the study was only observational, but the team noted that increased sugar consumption appeared to be a primary driver of increased cancer risk, potentially because it can lead to visceral fat deposits that have been previously associated with the formation of tumors.
"High sugary drinks consumption is a risk factor for obesity and weight gain," Touvier, research director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team at the Paris 13 University's National Health and Research Institute, told CNN. "Obesity is in itself a risk factor for cancer."
Interestingly, the researchers did not find a link between cancer risk and artificially sweetened "diet" drinks. They also suggested that other chemical additives, including 4-methylimidazole — usually found in drinks with a caramel coloring, according to CNN — could be an alternative factor driving cancer risk.
As such, the researchers said more large-scale prospective studies should be done to see if their results are replicated, but so far, "these data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption" to around one glass per day.
They also said that the results add weight to "policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence."
The findings come just months after a Harvard study found that drinking sugary beverages each day could increase your risk of an early death.
Sugary Drinks May Boost Risk of Premature Death. ( No Duh) https://t.co/lRein0OiVj— Zen Honeycutt (@zenhoneycutt) March 23, 2019
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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