soft drinks
Excess intake of sugary drinks can increase the risk of endometrial cancer in women, a new study says.LaMenta3/Flickr

Excess intake of sugary drinks can increase the risk of endometrial cancer in women, revealed a new study said.

Endometrial cancer affects the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. Nearly 142,000 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer annually and the deadly disease claims 42,000 lives every year.

Women in the study, who reported consuming more sugar-sweetened beverages, had 78 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer than those who consumed less.

The study looked at 23,039 postmenopausal women, enrolled in the Iowa Women's Health Study. Researchers collected information about their diet, demographic information and medical history, before making their cancer diagnosis.

The participants filled the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and provided details about their consumption and frequency of 127 food items in the past one year. The questionnaire mainly concentrated on the intake and frequency of two types of drinks - sugar-sweetened beverages and sugar-free soft drinks.

The sugar section included colas with added sugar like Coke and Pepsi, carbonated drinks with added sugar like 7-Up and non-carbonated fruit drinks like lemonade or Hawaiian Punch. The sugar-free category looked at caffeine free colas (Pepsi-Free) or low-calorie caffeinated or carbonated (Diet 7-Up) beverages.  

Based on the information, the participants were divided into different categories - those who completely abstained from soft drinks and those who reported drinking between 1.7 and 60.5 servings a week.

Nearly 595 women were diagnosed with endometrial cancer, including type 1(506) and type II (89). The risk of developing endometrial cancer increased with the number of sugary drinks the women had. However, intake of sugar-free soft drinks, sweets or baked food items or even starch did not pose any cancer risk in women.

"Although ours is the first study to show this relationship, it is not surprising to see that women who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages had a higher risk of estrogen-dependent type I endometrial cancer but not estrogen-independent type II endometrial cancer," Dr Maki Inoue-Choi, who led the study as a research associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, said in a statement.  

"Other studies have shown increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has paralleled the increase in obesity. Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogens and insulin than women of normal weight. Increased levels of estrogens and insulin are established risk factors for endometrial cancer."

The study has been reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Following are some symptoms associated with endometrial cancer:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding , discharge
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Pain during sex