Washington: Postmenopausal women who consume sugar-sweetened drinks are at a higher risk of developing cancer of the endometrium - the lining of the uterus - a new study has warned.
Researchers found that postmenopausal women who reported the highest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages had a 78 per cent increased risk for estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer (the most common type of this disease).
This association was found in a dose-dependent manner: the more sugar-sweetened beverages a woman drank, the higher her risk.
"Although ours is the first study to show this relationship, it is not surprising to see that women who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages had a higher risk of estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer but not estrogen-independent type II endometrial cancer," said researcher Maki Inoue-Choi.
"Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has parallelled the increase in obesity," said Inoue-Choi, who led the study as a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
"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," said Inoue-Choi.
Inoue-Choi and colleagues used data from 23,039 postmenopausal women who reported dietary intake, demographic information, and medical history in 1986, prior to the cancer diagnosis, as part of the Iowa Women's Health Study.
Dietary intake was assessed using the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), which asked study participants to report intake frequency of 127 food items in the previous 12 months.
Between 1986 and 2010, 506 type I and 89 type II endometrial cancers were recorded among the women Inoue-Choi and colleagues studied.
They did not find any association between type I or type II endometrial cancers and consumption of sugar-free soft drinks, sweets/baked goods, and starch.
"Research has documented the contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to the obesity epidemic," said Inoue-Choi.
"Too much added sugar can boost a person's overall calorie intake and may increase the risk of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer," Inoue-Choi added.
The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.