The more sugary drinks a woman consumes, the greater her risk for breast cancer, a study finds.
Canadian researchers have discovered that women who drink more than three sweetened beverages a week increased the density of their breasts, a known risk factor for cancer, the Daily Mail reports.
Women with dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more of the gland tissue that makes and drains the milk as well as supportive tissue surrounding the gland.
"We know that the worldwide consumption of sugar has increased and the findings of this study show what effect that type of diet has on breast density, one of the strongest indicators for breast cancer risk,” said Dr. Caroline Diorio, lead author of the study from Laval University in Quebec, according to Cancer.ca.
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The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, involved 1,555 women — half pre-menopausal, half post-menopausal — who were asked about how often they drank a 355 milliliter portion of sugary or fizzy beverage. Scientists also measured their breast density with mammography screening.
“Among all women, those who had a sugary drink intake of more than three servings per week had a mean of 29.6 per cent in breast density but those who did not drink this type of drink had a mean of 26.2 per cent in breast density,” Dr. Diorio said. “An increase of about three per cent in breast density is not negligible in terms of breast cancer risk.”
She went on to discuss the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
“By comparison it has been shown that healthy women at high risk of developing breast cancer who received tamoxifen for four-and-a-half years had a reduction of 6.4 per cent in breast density and it has been observed that tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 30-50 per cent in high-risk women,” Dr. Diorio said.
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It is believed that sugar can increase breast tissue density by stimulating cell growth.
Women with dense breast tissues are more susceptible to breast cancer because there are more cells that can develop the disease. Their tumors are also more likely to be overlooked because areas of abnormal tissue are difficult to see during mammograms.
“Considering the worldwide increase in sugar consumption and all the health problems it is related to, it is important to continue research on this subject and begin to inform the public about the adverse effects of sugar consumption,” Dr. Diorio concluded.