Cities like Seattle and Philadelphia have implemented taxes on sugary drinks in recent years with the hope of limiting consumers’ intake and improve health outcomes.
Now, researchers have discovered that avoiding sugary drinks could have some serious health benefits, as doing so could significantly reduce the number of cancer cases across the country.
“These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100 percent fruit juice, as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks, which might potentially contribute to the reduction of cancer incidence,” the authors wrote.
Practicing better health
The researchers studied over 101,000 adults’ dietary habits over the course of nine years from 2009 through 2018. Participants had their weight recorded every six months during the study, and at the beginning they answered five questionnaires, detailing their height and weight, physical activity, lifestyle characteristics (age, sex, smoking status, number of children, education level), dietary intakes, and health history.
Participants also had to report everything they consumed -- both food and drinks -- in at least two 24-hour periods every six months of the study. After collecting all of the data, the researchers determined that sugary drinks increased the likelihood of participants developing cancer.
The study revealed that when participants increased their sugary drink intake, they also increased their risk of developing cancer; even small increases of sugary beverages -- 100 mL per day -- increased the overall risk of cancer by nearly 20 percent.
Though an observational study, the researchers explained that this was a large sample size, and the results stayed the same across further tests, meaning that consumers’ dietary habits could greatly affect their health.
“If these results are replicated in further large-scale prospective studies and supported by mechanistic experimental data, and given the large consumption of sugary drinks in Western countries, these beverages would represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention, beyond their well-established impact on cardiometabolic health,” the authors wrote.
Taxes are doing their job
While cities across the country are trying to limit consumers’ sugary drink intake by implementing taxes, a recent study showed that these taxes are doing exactly what they were designed to.
In some regions, consumers swapped sugary drinks for healthier options. In others, public health officials were adamant about fighting obesity, but the outcome was still the same: sugary drink consumption decreased in places where taxes were implemented.
“It shows taxes on sugary drinks are an effective tool to reduce consumption, and we know from other research that high consumption of sugary drinks increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and dental caries,” said researcher Dr. Andrea Teng.