Story at a glance

  • A new study in the journal Gut analyzed the health and diets of 95,000 female nurses.
  • The study followed the nurses from 1991 to 2015 and found women who drank more than a pint of sugary drinks each day were two times more likely to be diagnosed with early onset bowel cancers.
  • The study did not take into account the consumption of red or processed meat, alcohol, smoking or obesity.

A new study found that the heavy consumption of sugary drinks may increase the risk of developing bowel cancer in women before the age of 50, according to a major study into diet and disease in U.S. nurses.

Published Tuesday in the journal Gut, the study analyzed the diet and medical history of 95,000 female nurses from 1991 to 2015 who took part in the U.S. Nurses’ Health II study

Researchers found that women who drank more than a pint of sugary drinks each day were two times more likely to be diagnosed with early onset bowel cancers than the women who drank less than half a pint per day.


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The researchers from Washington University in St. Louis said the findings provide further reason to refrain from consuming large quantities of sugary drinks, which are already known to increase one’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity. 

“Our findings reinforce the public health importance of limiting [sugar-sweetened beverage] intake for better health outcomes,” the researchers wrote.

However, other scientists who weren’t involved in the study have spoken out saying further research needs to be done because, of the 95,000 female nurses studied, only 109 women were diagnosed with early onset bowel cancer. And of the 109 women diagnosed, only 16 had a history of consuming more than a pint of sugary drinks per day.  

The study also doesn’t account for the consumption of red or processed meat, alcohol, smoking or obesity, which have all been found to increase one’s risk for developing the disease. 

“We just can’t be sure whether the observed association between sugary drinks and bowel cancer under the age of 50 is one of cause and effect,” Kevin McConway, an emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, told the Guardian.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cancer-related cause of death in men and women and is expected to cause about 52,980 deaths in 2021.


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Published on May 07, 2021