6,000 Cancer Deaths Linked to Sugary Drinks

By Posted on

pouring colaSugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) continue to make headlines: this week, a report that these drinks are associated with 180,000 deaths due to chronic diseases in adults worldwide every year.

AICR recommends avoiding sugary drinks because the AICR/WCRF expert report and its updates find strong evidence that sugary beverages cause weight gain, overweight and obesity.

According to the researchers, who presented their study at an American Heart Association Scientific Session, sugar-sweetened beverages contribute worldwide to 6,000 cancer deaths. They linked sugary drink consumption to 25,000 Americans’ deaths in 2010. This, as of now, is an unpublished study.

The researchers calculated the numbers of deaths related to SSB by looking at changes in SSB consumption in each country and it’s association with changes in body mass index (BMI) over a period of time. Then they looked at subsequent deaths from diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer and their association with body mass index. Their data on disease and deaths come from the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study (GBD 2010), which is the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2004 show that U.S. adults consume between 200-300 calories per day from sugary beverages. The American Heart Association recommends that adult women consume no more than 100 calories per day from sugar, and men no more than 150 calories a day from sugar. One 12-ounce regular soda contains about 150 calories.

Looking for ideas for tasty and low sugar beverages? Check out our beverage challenge.


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

2 thoughts on “6,000 Cancer Deaths Linked to Sugary Drinks”

  1. What about diet sodas that use artificial sweeteners? As to health, is there a maximum number of drinks per day that is safe? Are there any artificial sweeteners that are safe (e.g. I know that aspertame is not)

    1. Thank you for the question, Audrey. The AICR/WCRF expert report and its updates find no evidence that artificial/chemical sweeteners have a detectable effect on the risk of any cancer in humans. Although some sweeteners can be shown to be carcinogenic in experimental settings in massive amounts, these are far greater amounts than humans could consume in foods and drinks. As for overall health, the evidence is clear that sugary drinks promote weight gain, overweight and obesity. Evidence is less clear for artificial sweeteners. If you haven’t seen our blog report on a couple of studies presented at a conference, read here: http://blog.aicr.org/2011/06/29/diet-soda-and-weight-gain-in-the-news/

      There are many alternatives to both sugary and diet sodas, including tea, herbal teas and fruit infused waters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *