They are colorful, squeezable and have the term fruit all over, but kid-friendly smoothies are often just another sugary drink, as a study published last month highlighted. That study found that these drinks in the United Kingdom often come with as much added sugars as soda, giving a young child half of the highest amount of added sugar recommended per day.
That can lead to unhealthy weight gain in children. And that weight gain can mean higher cancer risk when children become adults, because many cancers are now linked to obesity, including colorectal and postmenopausal breast.
In the US, the story on smoothies is much the same. Many of the baby and child-focused drinks are called smoothies but the first two ingredients are milk and sugar. After that, comes fruit purees or juices, which means there is more sugar added than fruit. And some smoothies are simply milk, sugar and flavors, with no fruit at all. In two familiar brands, added sugar alone contributes 40-50% of the calories.
Just in time for your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and lose weight, US News published Best Diets 2016, a comprehensive review of diets of all kinds, including for overall health, weight loss and chronic disease prevention. They didn’t include lowering cancer risk in their analysis, but I couldn’t help but notice that most of the highest ranking diets would work well with AICR’s New American Plate model – designed for reducing risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
They asked experts in nutrition and weight loss to rate – using the research behind them – how strong the diets are for long and short term weight loss, nutrition, safety, preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease, and how easy it is to follow. The DASH diet (to lower hypertension)won in the most categories, with Weight Watchers ranking highly too. Others scoring well were a diet for brain health (MIND) and for lowering cholesterol (TLC). Continue reading
One of the most common questions we get here at AICR is about sugar. And it can be confusing. The overall body of evidence suggests that sugar’s link to cancer risk is an indirect one: diets high in sugar can lead to obesity, and excess body fat is a cause of ten different cancers.
But now comes a study performed in mice that is getting a lot of media attention. It suggests a more direct link between sugar consumption and breast cancer development. Published in Cancer Research, the study is interesting, says AICR Vice President of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, “but it’s important to recognize, that this is a single study and it is testing diets in mice, not in people.”
“Our reports, which have reviewed thousands of studies on diet and cancer, have found no evidence that sugar or added sugar directly causes cancer in humans. “We recommend limiting energy-dense foods and avoiding sugary drinks, but current evidence suggests it is not necessary to avoid sugar altogether.”
The animal study
In this animal study, researchers fed groups of mice diets with increasing amounts of the sugar sucrose – your basic white table sugar – and compared them to mice fed a sugar-free starch-based diet. These mice all were carrying breast cancer cells. Continue reading