Sugar Coating Uterine Cancer Risks

Endometrial cancer risks higher in women who consume more sugar

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) From a health perspective, we’re learning that sugar isn’t all that sweet for the body. In addition to obesity, sugary foods and drinks are associated with a number of diseases, with cancer now being one of them.

A new study found that women who consumed high amounts of sugar were at a greater risk of developing endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancer than women who ate modest amounts of the sweet stuff.

The implication of this study is that limiting sugar may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.

"Avoid sugary foods and drinks."

Melony G. King, PhD, of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and colleagues looked at the impact of consuming sugary foods and drinks on endometrial cancer risk.

Uterine cancer — also called endometrial cancer — is the most common gynecological cancer in the US. Nearly 50,000 American women are expected to be told they have uterine cancer this year.

For this study, the researchers evaluated data on 424 women with endometrial cancer and 398 healthy women who participated in the EDGE (Estrogens, Diet, Genetics, and Endometrial Cancer) Study.

The women were interviewed and completed questionnaires about their dietary habits, including the foods they ate and how often they consumed those foods.

This information was translated into servings per day. The researchers created four groups (quartiles) based on the number of servings consumed per day.

Women who had been treated for endometrial cancer reported both higher total sugar and added sugar intake than women without the disease.

Examples of added sugars include table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses and syrups.

Total sugar made up 66 grams of every 1,000 calories consumed by the women with cancer, compared to 62.78 grams of every 1,000 calories the healthy women consumed. Added sugars made up 30.58 grams per 1,000 calories for patients versus 27.28 grams per 1,000 calories for the cancer-free women.

Women in the highest quartile of added sugar intake had an 84 percent higher risk of developing uterine cancer than did women in the lowest quartile.

In addition, the researchers gathered information on other potential uterine cancer risk factors, including age, race, education, oral contraceptive use, estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use, age at onset of first period, childbirth history, body mass index (a measure of body fat), diabetes, smoking status and menopausal status.

Among women who had never used HRT, the added sugar association became even stronger — nearly doubling the endometrial cancer risk compared with women who had used HRT and consumed less sugar.

"In a case-controlled study, the researchers found that the women with endometrial cancer consumed significantly higher amounts of total sugar, added sugars, breads and condiments with added sugar," Deborah Gordon, MD, nutrition and preventive medicine expert, told dailyRx News.

"Those offering dietary counsel have misguidedly allowed added sugars of all sorts in their zeal to avoid dietary fats. Cancer joins the list of other sugar-induced diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity) to remind us that dietary fat is not the problem but added sugars can encourage the growth of more than just our waistlines," said Dr. Gordon, who is an integrative physician at Madrona Homeopathy in Ashland, Oregon.

This study was published in the July issue of Cancer Causes and Control.

The National Cancer Institute funded the research. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Review Date: 
July 30, 2013
Last Updated:
August 9, 2013