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Sugary Beverage Intake Linked To Age, Health History

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A new study, published in Translational Cancer Research, found that demographic factors such as age, race and education are strongly related to sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers at Louisiana State University conducted the study, which was aimed at discovering "the impact of cancer status and other risk factors on sugar intake from SSBs," or sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the study's abstract. 

Melinda Sothern, Ph.D., professor of public health at LSU Health New Orleans and senior author of the study, told LSU Health, "To our knowledge, no other studies have examined sugar-sweetened beverage intake in cancer survivors."

According to the study, "a significant association between sugar intake from SSBs and cancer status was not observed." Cancer survivors were found to take in far less sugar from SSBs than people without cancer, although this is probably a result of the average ages of the cancer and non-cancer groups (62 and 45, respectively). 

One result of note is that survivors of cervical cancer were found to have high sugar intake, at 17.1%, compared to cancer survivors overall at 8%.

The study shows that people who take in a lot of sugar from sweetened beverages tend to be "younger, male, black, with lower education, with lower income, obese, and current smokers." More than a quarter of current smokers have high SSB intake.

The study recommends interventions for these at-risk individuals, and mentions that reducing SSB consumption among cervical cancer survivors "in younger age groups" is a high priority. Authors point to a publication by the CDC aimed at reducing sugary beverage consumption, which recommends that health providers "Include screening and counseling about SSB consumption as part of routine medical care." 

Although the findings of this study found no specific link between SSB intake and cancer, Sothern told LSU Health that "Recently growing evidence suggests a link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the risk of pancreatic and endometrial cancer, as well as the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death among cancer survivors."

Furthermore, the LSU study's lead author, Tung-Sung Tseng, DrPH, associate professor of public health, said that he noticed a troubling trend. "People are not usually aware of how much sugar they get from sugar-sweetened beverages... The American Heart Association recommends a consumption goal of no more than 450 kilocalories (kcal) of sugar-sweetened beverages or fewer than three 12-ounce cans of soda per week."

According to the CDC publication mentioned in the LSU study, health risks associated with SSBs include "diabetes, elevated triglycerides, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, elevated uric acid levels, gout" and various dental problems. 

Sources: Translational Cancer Research (2), LSU Health, CDC  / Photo Credit: WWL

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