Consuming lots of sugary drinks is associated with a higher risk for the more common type of endometrial cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found an association between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of type 1 endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer is often divided up into two types, with most falling into the first type; type 1 endometrial cancer is often slow-growing and is fueled by excess estrogen, while type 2 endometrial cancer is typically more aggressive and is not caused by excess estrogen, according to the American Cancer Society.
The study did not show that sugary drink consumption was linked with risk for type 2 endometrial cancer. However, researchers said it was not surprising drink consumption was only linked with type 1 of the cancer.
"Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight," study researcher Maki Inoue-Choi, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., a research associate in the university's Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, explained in a statement. "Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer."
Published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the study included food frequency, medical and demographic data from 23,039 postmenopausal women with an average age of 61 who were part of the Iowa Women's Health Study. They were followed between 1986 and 2010.
The study participants reported the frequency with which they ate 127 different foods over the last year, including four categories of sugary drinks: Hawaiian punch, lemonade or another non-carbonated fruit drink; a carbonated, non-cola sugary drink (like 7-Up); Coke, Pepsi or another sugary cola; and caffeine-free Coke, Pepsi, or another sugary cola. Researchers divided the women into quintiles based on their sugary drink consumption; the quintile for the lowest amount was 0 servings per week, while the quintile for the highest amount was 1.7 to 60.5 servings per week.
The women were also asked about sugar-free and low-calorie soft drink consumption (like Pepsi-Free or diet ginger ale), as well as sweets and baked goods consumption.
During the 24-year time period of the study, 506 women developed type 1 endometrial cancer and 89 developed type 2 endometrial cancer. Researchers found that the women who consumed the most sugary drinks over the study period had a 78 percent higher risk of developing endometrial cancer, compared with women who did not report drinking any sugary drinks.
The findings held true even after taking into account other potential cancer risk factors including physical activity, diabetes history, alcohol intake, cigarette smoking and body mass index.
Previously, a study from Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that as many as 180,000 deaths around the world are linked with consumption of sugary drinks. The research, presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association earlier this year, shows that 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 6,000 deaths from cancer and 44,000 deaths from heart disease are linked with sugar-sweetened drinks.