Since the early 1990s, colorectal cancer cases have more than doubled in adults under the age of 50. It is now the third most common cancer around the world. Researchers claim that the primary contributing factors relate to environment and lifestyle. An unhealthy diet, specifically, may be one of the leading causes of this cancer’s development.
It’s no secret that people love to enjoy sugary beverages. From sodas and bottled juices to mixed drinks and coffee creations, there’s no shortage of sugary beverages. Sugary sodas, even ones that are zero-calorie and contain artificial sweeteners, increase the risk of colorectal cancer. In a recent meta-analysis of over 100 studies, the findings indicated that half of the younger adults with colorectal cancer were either overweight or obese. A newer study published in the journal Gut found more substantial evidence that supports this.
The Gut Study:
Researchers used the Nurses’ Health Study II, where about 96,000 women reported exactly which beverages they drank every four years. The common trend among women who drank two or more sugary beverages per day was that they doubled their risk of colorectal cancer development before age 50. The women who consumed less than one sugary drink each week had a much lower risk.
Further in-depth analysis found that every eight-ounce sugary beverage consumed per day increased the risk of colorectal cancer development by 16%. For younger women in the 13-18-year old age bracket, the same sugary drink per day increased the risk by 32%. There were 109 participants in the study who received a diagnosis of early-onset colorectal cancer.
The beverages that these women consumed included both carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. Soft drinks, fruit drinks, punches, and sweetened iced teas either contained high fructose corn syrup or sugar. It’s no secret that sugar increases the risk of numerous health conditions. Replacing sugary beverages with unsweetened beverages is much better for overall health and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. The question of concern is how exactly do sweetened beverages relate to early-onset colorectal cancer?
Scientific researchers believe that early-onset development has to do with the fact that sugary beverages are not filling. Solid foods with similar calorie content are more filling than the beverages. The theory is, then, that sugary beverages promote overeating, which increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. All of these conditions increase the risk of cancer development. Studies have shown that a primary risk factor of colorectal cancer is adhering to a Western diet, which contains lots of processed foods and sugars. Additionally, it’s relatively low in nutrients and fiber that supports a diverse microbiome.
How To Reduce Risk:
If you want to reduce the risk of early-onset colorectal cancer, it’s best to swap sugary drinks for non-sugary varieties. That doesn’t mean you should drink diet versions because they contain aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that harm the system. Instead, try to focus on water, unsweetened herbal teas, homemade juices, or unsweetened coffee. Additionally, load up on fiber by consuming chia seeds, legumes, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. When you add more fiber to your diet, it helps to move waste through the digestive tract. This helps protect the gut from forming cancer mutations.
Young people also need to pay attention to their consumption of sugary beverages, given that 12% of colorectal cancer cases in 2020 occurred in people under the age of 50. This is why the recommended age for colon cancer screening dropped from age 50 to 45. Take action now to protect yourself in the future. Early prevention and detection is the key to reducing the severity or onset of the disease.