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No Cola a Day Keeps the Bowel Cancer Away, Study Shows

Photo by David Fedulov on Unsplash

Put down those sodas and coffee shop concoctions, and chug water, ladies.

Drinking two or more sugary drinks daily doubles a woman’s risk of developing early-onset bowel cancer under the age of 50, according to new research. This is added bad news for soda and sugary-drink loving women, who are also at increased risk of Diabetes, obesity, as well as heart disease and stroke with just one sugary drink per day.

The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, but an uptick in diagnoses among women under 50 has researchers sounding the public health alarm bells and questioning the cause of the rise. The increase in colorectal cancer cases caused the average age of diagnosis to decline from 72 to 66 years of age.

“Colorectal cancer in younger adults remains relatively rare, but the fact that the rates have been increasing over the past three decades—and we don’t understand why—is a major public health concern and a priority in cancer prevention,” head researcher Tin Cao, ScD, MPH, associate professor of surgery and associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a statement.

The researchers surveyed more than 116,000 female nurses every four years over two and a half decades for their study. A 16% increased risk of early-onset (cancer diagnosed before age 50) colorectal cancer was found for each 8-oz serving of a sugary drink per day. And during adolescent and young adult years (ages 13-18), each daily serving of an 8-oz sugary drink was associated with a 32% increased risk of developing early-onset colorectal cancer.

Only 109 diagnoses of early-onset colorectal cancer were found among the 116,000 female nurses. And while Cao’s results reveal only a small number of colorectal cases, she said there is an association between sugar intake early in life and early onset colorectal cancer risk.

While many people wait until age 50 to get checked for colon cancer, the American Cancer Society recently updated its recommendations for people with average risk to get screened at age 45. There have been a variety of methods to combat the grip sugary drinks have on various age groups including excise tax on sodas and school-based health promotion.

“Given this data, we recommend that people avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and instead choose drinks like milk and coffee without sweeteners,” Cao said.

The study was published in Gut.

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