High sugar intake ups risk of cancer
Avoiding sugar in the diet may help prevent cancer, particularly breast, suggests a recent study, contributing to the debate of the implementation of sugar taxation, marketing regulation, and other sugar-related policies.
“Excessive sugar intake is now recognized as a key risk factor for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases,” the authors said. “Experimental data suggest that sugars could play a role in cancer aetiology through obesity but also through inflammatory and oxidative mechanisms and insulin resistance, even in the absence of weight gain.”
A total of 101,279 participants aged >18 years (median age, 40.8 years) from the French NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort study (2009–2019) were included in this research (median follow-up time, 5.9 years), which sought to examine the associations between total and added sugar intake and cancer risk (overall, breast, and prostate), while taking into account sugar types and sources.
Repeated and validated 24-h dietary records, designed to register participants’ usual consumption for >3,500 food and beverage items, were utilized to assess sugar intake. Cox proportional hazard models adjusted for known risk factors (ie, sociodemographic, anthropometric, lifestyle, medical history, and nutritional factors) were used to examine the associations between sugar intake and cancer risk.
Total sugar intake correlated with higher overall cancer risk (n=2,503 cases; hazard ratio [HR] for quartile 4 compared with quartile 1, 1.17, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.00–1.37; p=0.02). Specifically, the risk for breast cancer was most increased (n=783; HR, 1.51, 95 percent CI, 1.14–2.00; p=0.0007).
The associations remained significant even after adjusting for weight gain during follow-up. Moreover, significant associations with cancer risk were seen for added sugars, free sugars, sucrose, sugars from milk-based desserts, dairy products, and sugary drinks (p≤0.01).