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Beware of Beverages

Times of India
9 February, 2010
Washington, USA

Sugary soft drinks linked to cancer of the pancreas
Beverages
People who drink two or more sweetened soft drinks a week have a much higher risk of pancreatic cancer, an unusual but deadly cancer, scientists said on Monday.

People who drank mostly fruit juice instead of sodas did not have the same risk, the study of 60,000 people in Singapore found. Sugar may be to blame but people who drink sweetened sodas regularly often have other poor health habits, said Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota, who led the study.

“The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth,” Pereira said.

Insulin, which helps the body metabolize sugar, is made in the pancreas. Writing in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Pereira and colleagues said they followed 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years.

Over that time, 140 of the volunteers developed pancreatic cancer. Those who drank two or more soft drinks a week had an 87% higher risk of being among those who got pancreatic cancer. Pereira said he believed the findings would apply elsewhere.

“Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent healthcare. Favorite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should apply to western countries,” he said.

But Susan Mayne of Yale University in Connecticut was cautious. “The finding was based on a small number of cases and it remains unclear whether it is a causal link or not,” said Mayne.

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