Endometrial Cancer Sweet on Sugary Drinks

Endometrial cancer type I higher in women who consumed sugary drinks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) It isn't good for your health to drink lots of soft drinks loaded with sugar. Taking big gulps of sugary drinks can boost your weight and increase your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

A new study has found that postmenopausal women who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages were at greater risk of developing endometrial cancer than women who didn’t consume sugary drinks.

And the more sugar-based beverages they consumed, the higher their cancer risks.

"Choose water over sugary drinks."

For this study, researchers led by Maki Inoue-Choi, PhD, MS, RD, a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, reviewed data from an earlier study to evaluate connections between diet and endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer develops in the lining of the uterus. The disease will be diagnosed in nearly 50,000 American women this year and take the lives of 8,000 women.

There are two types of endometrial cancer — type l, which is driven by the female hormone estrogen, and type ll, which is not dependent on estrogen.

According to these researchers, mounting evidence shows that endometrial cancer is associated with anything that increases a woman’s estrogen levels, including obesity, postmenopausal estrogen therapy (hormone replacement therapy), late menopause and never having had a child.

“Indeed, obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens compared with normal weight women, which is considered a major reason for the excess risk of endometrial cancer related to obesity," the researchers wrote in this study's introduction.

"Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer,” Dr. Inoue-Choi, who is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics of the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, explained in a statement.

For this study, the researchers looked at results of the Iowa Women’s Health Study conducted in 1986, which involved 23,039 postmenopausal women.

These participants completed the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), which asked how often the women consumed 127 food items in the previous 12 months.

Four questions regarded the frequency of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, including: 1) colas, 2) caffeine-free colas, 3) other carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages and 4) lemonade, punches or other noncarbonated fruit drinks.

The survey included brand names of these drinks as well as sugar-free soft drinks.

The women also reported their patterns of eating other “sweets and baked goods,” including chocolate, candy bars, and both ready-made and home-baked cookies, brownies, cakes, doughnuts, sweet rolls, coffeecakes and other pastries.

Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was categorized from no intake (lowest quintile) to 60.5 servings (the highest quintile).

Dr. Inoue-Choi and colleagues reviewed information about the participants between 1986 and 2010 using the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database.

Among the participants of the original study, 506 women developed type l and 89 developed type ll endometrial cancers.

The researchers learned that eating sweet/baked goods, sugar-free drinks and starch was not linked with either type of endometrial cancer.

However, increasing sugary drink consumption was associated with increasing type l endometrial cancer risks.

Compared to women who didn’t drink sugared beverages, the women who consumed the highest levels of sugar-sweetened beverages were 78 percent more likely to develop estrogen-dependent type l endometrial cancer.

This association was seen regardless of BMI (a measure of fat in the body), history of diabetes, physical activity and cigarette smoking.

Sugar consumption of any kind did not affect type ll endometrial cancer risks.

This study was published November 22 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The National Cancer Institute funded this research.

Review Date: 
November 22, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014