Rates of colon cancer among young Americans are on the rise, and a new study suggests that drinking too many sugary beverages may be to blame — at least for women.
Women who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, fruity drinks or sports and energy drinks per day had double the risk of developing colon cancer before the age of 50, compared to women who consumed one or fewer sugary drinks per week.
“On top of the well-known adverse metabolic and health consequences of sugar-sweetened beverages, our findings have added another reason to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages,” said study author Yin Cao, an associate professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The study included more than 95,000 women from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study II. The nurses were aged 25 through 42 when the study began in 1989 and provided information on their diet every four years for nearly 25 years.
Of these, 41,272 reported on what, and how much, they drank in their teen years. During 24 years of follow-up, 109 women developed colon cancer before turning 50.
Having a higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in adulthood was associated with a higher risk of the disease, even after researchers controlled for other factors that may affect colon cancer risk such as a family history. This risk was even greater when women consumed sodas and other sugary drinks during their teen years.