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    Sugary beverages linked to endometrial cancer



    Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages boosts calories—and also risk of estrogen-dependent type 1 endometrial cancer—according to a study of more than 23,000 postmenopausal women. Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the report found no similar link with sugar-free drinks.

    To evaluate dietary intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, sugar-free beverages, sweets/baked goods, starch and sugars, the researchers used the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). The participants—23,039 postmenopausal women in the Iowa Women’s Health Study—were asked to report their intake of 127 food items over the past year on the FFQ.

    Sugar-sweetened beverages included colas with sugar, caffeine-free colas, carbonated beverages with sugar, and noncarbonated fruit drinks such as lemonade. Low-calorie caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages were listed, as were sweets and baked goods such as commercial and homemade brownies, cakes, and pies.

    From 1986 to 2010, the researchers identified 506 type 1 and 89 type 2 incident endometrial cancers in the women. Risk of type 1 endometrial cancer (the most common type) was 78% higher (95% confidence interval, 1.32-2.40) in those with the highest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages than in those who did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages. The observed association was not modified by body mass index, physical activity, history of diabetes, or cigarette smoking. No association was seen between type 2 endometrial cancer risk and any of the dietary items on the FFQ.

    The researchers believe that theirs is the first study to link consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages with endometrial cancer risk. They noted that type 1 endometrial cancer is estrogen-dependent whereas type 2 is not and that the increased estrogen levels seen in obese women are an established risk factor for the disease. 



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    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.


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