A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention shows that postmenopausal women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages may be more likely to develop the most common type of endometrial cancer compared with women who did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages.
A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
shows that postmenopausal women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages
may be more likely to develop the most common type of endometrial
cancer compared with women who did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages.
The researchers used data from 23,039 postmenopausal women who
reported dietary intake, demographic information, and medical history in
1986, prior to the cancer diagnosis, as part of the Iowa Women’s
Health Study. Dietary intake was assessed using the Harvard Food
Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), 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.
As reported in the study, the FFQ included four questions asking
usual intake frequency of sugar-sweetened beverages, including 1) Coke, Pepsi, or other colas with sugar; 2) caffeine-free Coke, Pepsi, or other colas with sugar; 3) other carbonated beverages with sugar (e.g., 7-Up); and 4) Hawaiian Punch,
lemonade, or other noncarbonated fruit drinks. “Sugar-free soft
drinks” included low-calorie caffeinated and caffeine-free cola (e.g., Pepsi-Free), and other low-calorie carbonated beverages (e.g., Fresca, Diet 7-Up, and Diet Ginger Ale).
The researchers categorized the sugar-sweetened beverage consumption
patterns of these women into quintiles, ranging from no intake (the
lowest quintile) to between 1.7 and 60.5 servings a week (the highest
Between 1986 and 2010, 506 type I and 89 type II endometrial cancers
were recorded among the women the researchers studied. They did not
find any association between type I or type II endometrial cancers and
consumption of sugar-free soft drinks, sweets/baked goods, and starch.
However, postmenopausal women who reported the highest intake of
sugar-sweetened beverages had a 78% increased risk for
estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer (the most common type of
this disease). This association was found in a dose-dependent manner:
the more sugar-sweetened beverages a woman drank, the higher her risk.
Because this study is the first to show the association between high
sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and endometrial cancer, such
findings need replication in other studies, according to the
In response to the study, the American Beverage Association (ABA)
released the following statement: “This study does not show that
sugar-sweetened beverage consumption causes endometrial cancer. In fact,
its findings conflict with the results of several other published
studies that showed no association between consumption of sugar and
risk for endometrial cancer. The Mayo Clinic states common risk
factors as changes in female hormones, older age, obesity, and
inherited genetic conditions—not sugar or beverage
consumption. Moreover, the study only measured dietary behaviors at the
very beginning of the study, yet makes conclusions about health
outcomes over 12 years.”