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Will drinking fruit juice increase my risk of cancer?

11 July 2019

orange juice

What’s being reported?

That drinking sugary drinks - including fizzy drinks and fruit juice - may increase the risk of developing cancer.

What’s the evidence?

The study followed over 100,000 people for five years. The results showed that the people who drank the most sugary drinks (about 185ml a day) had a 30 per cent increased risk of all cancers cases than those who drank the least (less than 30ml a day).

Among women with the highest intake, the risk of breast cancer increased by 37 per cent.

The French scientists who carried out the research found that the link between sugary drinks and cancer held true even when a person's weight was taken into account. Obesity is a known cause of 13 different types of cancer (although there is little evidence linking it to ovarian cancer) but the latest study found that even slim people were at increased risk if they drank sugary drinks or fruit juice.

Speculating on the findings, the scientists pointed to other research which suggested that sugary drinks promoted body fat around the abdomen, even if a person was a healthy weight, which in turn promoted the growth of tumours. Other explanations for the link between sugary drinks and cancer could be the high glycaemic load of sugary drinks, they said.

The study found no link between diet drinks containing sweetener and an increased risk of cancer.

What does this mean for me?

This study reports a possible association between higher consumption of sugary drinks and an increased risk of cancer but does not prove that sugary drinks cause cancer, with experts stating that more evidence is required before any conclusions are drawn. 

While there is no need to panic about these findings, they do support existing recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption.

A much greater risk factor for ovarian cancer is carrying a hereditary risk of cancer. Around 15% of ovarian cancer cancers are linked to the BRCA gene mutation but this risk can be significantly reduced through taking preventative action. As a result, it is extremely important that everyone has an understanding of their family history of cancer. To explore your risk, visit: ovarian.org.uk/risk tool