Swedish study’s tentative link of soft drinks to prostate cancer

  • December 3, 2012
  • Kate Taylor

A study from Lund University in Sweden suggests that men who drink one normal-sized (330ml) soft drink per day are at a greater risk of getting more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

The study is published in the December 2012 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), entitled “Dietary intakes of carbohydrates in relation to prostate cancer risk: a prospective study in the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort”, conducted by Drake et al.

The study found that there was an increased risk of prostate cancer of around 40 percent among men who drank a lot of soft drinks or other drinks with added sugar.

The Swedish study followed over 8,000 men between the ages of 45 to 73 for 15 years.

The research also found that men were more likely to develop “milder” forms of cancer by regularly eating breakfast cereals high in sugar (38 per cent) and large amounts of rice and pasta (31 per cent).

Lund University researcher Isabel Drake suggested that further research could enable “tailored food and drink guidelines” based around how certain genes respond to different diets.

The study was also cited in another article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2012, authored by Aune Dugfinne, entitled “Soft drinks, aspartame, and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease”. The peer reviewed article acknowledged that “given the numerous analyses that were conducted in this study, it is possible that some of the results may be due to chance”.

An Australian context

The scenario linking significant sugar intake from soft drink consumption with obesity and increased risk of bowel, breast, pancreatic and other cancers has previously been referred to at the website of the Cancer Council of Australia.

The website of the Cancer Council of Australia advises that although soft drinks need to be consumed in moderation to avoid obesity, “they will not directly increase an individual’s risk of cancer in the same way that tobacco smoke or asbestos do”.

Another Australian website, that of the Cancer Council NSW, has also considered whether soft drink bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) could cause cancer. The Cancer Council NSW suggests that the chemical compounds in PET bottles are far below the safe level specified by the World Health Organisation and National Health and Medical Research Council. The website also says any potential health risks of degradation from heating plastics “would require temperatures substantially higher than temperatures inside a car in the Australian summer”, although the website did warn against microwaving PET or any non-microwave safe plastic bottles.

Swedish research has revealed that soft drink increases the risk of prostate cancer.


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