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Soft Drinks Could Boost Pancreatic Cancer Risk
Date:2/8/2010

Higher blood sugar, insulin levels might cause cells to divide abnormally, researchers say

MONDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- People who down two or more soft drinks a week may have double the risk of developing deadly pancreatic cancer, compared to non-soda drinkers, new research suggests.

But the overall number of people developing the malignancy remains low, with the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimating 42,470 new cases last year.

"Soft drinks are linked with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer," said Noel Mueller, lead author of a study appearing in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. "We can't speculate too much on the mechanism because this is an observational study, but the increased risk may be working through effects of the hormone insulin."

Still, the report should not cause undue alarm, some say.

"The study was well designed but smaller than some previous studies that did not find a link between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and pancreatic cancer," noted Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society. "Direct evidence linking sugar-sweetened soft drinks to pancreatic cancer remains limited."

And adult soda drinkers may also engage in other lifestyle habits, such as smoking, which could contribute to the elevated risk.

"It's an interesting finding but if you look at the people who had the high soft drink intake, they also had other issues that may also predispose you to pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Colin D. Weekes, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver. "It's hard to make any true associations from this. "We could argue that smoking could be the issue here and not the soda intake."

Although the study didn't differentiate between regular and diet soda, it was conducted in Singapore, where most soda consumed is regular, Mueller said.

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