Sugary drinks could be causing cancer tumours to grow, new research finds

Could sugary drinks cause cancer tumours to grow? [Photo: Getty]
Could sugary drinks cause cancer tumours to grow? [Photo: Getty]

We know that sugary drinks aren’t really good for our health (or our waistlines). But new research has revealed the fizzy drinks could exacerbate the growth of bowel cancer tumours.

The study, from Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and published in the journal Science, found that specially bred mice developed larger tumours when they consumed the equivalent of one can of soft drink per day.

Scientists studied mice that were genetically engineered to develop colon tumours. They gave one group a dose of high-fructose corn syrup (HCFS), a common sweetener in the US, that was equivalent to one can of fizzy drink every day for eight weeks. The other group did not receive any added sugars.

When researchers compared the size of the tumours in both groups, they found the ones that were fed HFCS had larger tumours than the ones who did not.

“We were not able to show that giving high-fructose syrup causes new tumours, because these mice develop tumours even on normal diets free of added sugar,” explained the study’s lead author Dr Marcus Goncalves.

“But when you give them this additional sugar, the tumours grow much bigger.”

READ MORE: What fizzy drinks really do to your body

Scientists are advising those with a higher bowel cancer risk to cut down on fizzy drinks [Photo: Getty]
Scientists are advising those with a higher bowel cancer risk to cut down on fizzy drinks [Photo: Getty]

Colon cancer typically starts as a polyp, or a small group of cells, that carries on growing until it becomes a tumour.

“Polyps love to eat fructose and glucose and they use it to grow. They’re just like humans,” Dr Lewis Cantley, one of the lead authors from Weill Cornell Medicine said in a statement.

“While our work was conducted in mice, our findings build on mounting evidence that sugar fuels cancer growth.”

Though more research is needed to demonstrate whether HFCS promotes colon tumour growth in humans, study authors believe the findings could be used to advise about future cancer treatment or prevention.

They say their results suggest that people with colon cancer or those at high risk of developing it should avoid sugary drinks.

Though the effect of table sugars, wasn’t measured in the experiment, researchers believe they are likely to produce a similar effect.

READ MORE: Easy ways to cut your child’s sugar consumption

The study results follow a further piece of research published earlier this week, published in the journal Circulation, which found that drinking just one fizzy drink a day significantly increases your risk of heart disease.

The research found that those who consume two or more sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) a day have a 31% higher risk of early death from heart disease.

And new study also revealed earlier this week that adding milk to your tea or coffee could help to protect you from throat cancer.

Research conducted by scientists from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, discovered a link between drinking boiling hot water and the development of cancer of the oesophagus.