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Soft drinks may increase risk of pancreatic cancer

Individuals who consumed two or more soft drinks per week increased their risk of developing pancreatic cancer by nearly two-fold compared with those who did not consume soft drinks, according to a University of Minnesota study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Authors Mark Pereira, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health, and Noel Mueller, M.P.H., also noted that people who regularly consume soft drinks, defined as primarily carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages, tend to have a poor behavioral profile overall.

However, the effect of these drinks on pancreatic cancer may be unique. “The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth,” Pereira says.

Though relatively rare, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly cancers, and only 5 percent of people who are diagnosed are alive five years later.

Pereira and colleagues observed 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years. During that time, 140 of those people got pancreatic cancer. Those who consumed two or more soft drinks per week—averaging five per week—had an 87 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

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