Cancer group: US must see soda health risk like tobacco risk

"We know there is a direct link between excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, and the adverse health effect can be profound."

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Obesity is considered the United States' leading public health crisis. It is the country's No. 2 cause of preventable death, according to the Get America Fit Foundation.

Writing to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Hansen sought to highlight a possible link between obesity and cancer.

He cited his group's cancer-prevention guidelines, which state, "Consuming a healthy diet can substantially reduce one’s lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer."

A "comprehensive" surgeon general study on the issue could "perhaps begin to change the direction of public behavior in their choices of food and drinks," he wrote.

Hansen's letter was dated Tuesday.