Fruit juice and fizzy drinks sig­nif­i­cantly raise the risk of can­cer, a ma­jor study shows to­day.

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Ben Spencer Med­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

As lit­tle as 100ml of pure juice a day – a small glass, or a third of a can – in­creased the odds of the dis­ease by 12 per cent. And the same quan­tity of sweet­ened soft drink, such as cor­dial or fizzy pop, raised the risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer by 19 per cent.

Ex­perts warned con­sumers were be­ing tricked into think­ing that nat­u­ral fruit juice was healthy even though it is packed with sugar.

They said it did not mat­ter whether the juice was freshly squeezed or sold in a bot­tle. The risk also rose with each glass con­sumed. How­ever the chance of de­vel­op­ing can­cer is still very low: for every 1,000 peo­ple who con­sume sug­ary drinks, 26 would get the dis­ease over five years. That com­pares with 22 per 1,000 for those who shun the prod­ucts.

Doc­tors said the study, which tracked more than 100,000 peo­ple, strength­ened the case for ro­bust ac­tion to cut con­sump­tion of sug­ary

drinks. How­ever Tory lead­er­ship con­tender Boris John­son last week said he might re­verse Theresa May’s sugar levy on soft drinks, be­lit­tling such mea­sures as ‘sin stealth taxes’.

Health of­fi­cials are in­creas­ingly con­cerned about sugar con­sump­tion, par­tic­u­larly among chil­dren.

In­take is around twice the rec­om­mended lim­its for peo­ple of all ages, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from Public Health Eng­land. And soft drinks are the big­gest source of sugar for chil­dren and teenagers – mak­ing for the worst rates in Europe.

The re­searchers, from the Sor­bonne study cen­tre in Paris and the French public health agency, said strong poli­cies to cut in­take of sweet drinks could even cut can­cer rates.

Writ­ing last night in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal, they said: ‘Th­ese data sup­port the rel­e­vance of ex­ist­ing nu­tri­tional rec­om­men­da­tions to limit sug­ary drink con­sump­tion, in­clud­ing 100 per cent 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 team tracked 101,257 peo­ple in France who were aged 42 on av­er­age at the start of the five-year study. The re­sults showed that ar­ti­fi­cially-sweet­ened drinks, such as diet cola, re­sulted in no in­creased can­cer risk.

‘The pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to be conned into think­ing that “nat­u­ral” au­to­mat­i­cally equates to “health­ier” which is sim­ply not the case,’ said Pro­fes­sor Niko­lai Petro­vsky of Flin­ders Univer­sity in Aus­tralia.

‘ High- sugar nat­u­ral fruit drinks, which are flour­ish­ing world­wide and be­ing mar­keted as a health­ier op­tion by juice and smoothie com­pa­nies, can be just as bad if not worse than the car­bon­ated drinks they are at­tempt­ing to

‘Rely on wa­ter in­stead’

re­place, as in many cases they can have an even higher to­tal sugar con­tent.’

Obe­sity is a known cause of 13 dif­fer­ent types of can­cer but the new study found even slim peo­ple were at in­creased risk if they drank sug­ary drinks or fruit juice.

The team said be­ing over­weight ‘might not be the only driver of the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween sug­ary drinks and the risk of can­cer’.

They pointed to other re­search which sug­gested that sug­ary drinks pro­moted body fat around the ab­domen, even if a per­son is of a healthy weight, which in turn pro­motes the growth of tu­mours.

Dr Gra­ham Wheeler, se­nior statis­ti­cian at Can­cer Re­search UK, warned that the study as­sumed a link with can­cer and ‘this still needs fur­ther re­search’.

Dr Ali­son Ted­stone, chief nu­tri­tion­ist at Public Health Eng­land, said: ‘Reg­u­larly con­sum­ing drinks high in sugar can con­trib­ute to tooth de­cay and weight gain.

‘Be­ing over­weight can cause se­ri­ous ill health – in­clud­ing some can­cers.’ But Gavin Part­ing­ton, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Bri­tish Soft Drinks As­so­ci­a­tion trade group, said the study ‘does not pro­vide ev­i­dence of cause, as the au­thors read­ily ad­mit’.

‘Soft drinks are safe to con­sume as part of a bal­anced diet,’ he added. ‘ The soft drinks in­dus­try recog­nises it has a role to play in help­ing to tackle obe­sity which is why we have led the way in calo­rie and sugar re­duc­tion.’

He said over­all sugar in­take from soft drinks had fallen 29 per cent be­tween May 2015 and May 2019.

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