Popular drink is ‘doubling’ the risk of bowel cancer according to study

Cancer can strike anyone, but sometimes certain lifestyle decisions could increase the risk. A popular drink could be doubling the risk of bowel cancer, according to experts. Here’s everything you need know

The side effect is not yet listed and the watchdog says women do not need to be overly worried
Bowel cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers out there

Considered the second biggest cancer killer, bowel cancer is caused by cells changing and growing in the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

As cancer cells divide and multiply in the body very quickly, the disease can be quite hard to detect, often lowering survival rates.

However, keeping an eye on your lifestyle decisions can make a difference.

Certain food and drink can influence your risk of developing cancer in the first place.

Recent research published in journal Gut has revealed a connection between sugar-sweetened beverages and the risk of developing bowel cancer. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Which popular drink is ‘doubling’ the risk of bowel cancer?

Those who consume sugar-sweetened drinks on a daily basis have been found to be twice as likely to develop bowel cancer before the age of 50

The research from Gut revealed that drinking two or more sugar-sweetened beverages daily in adulthood was linked to a “doubling” in the risk of bowel cancer before the age of 50 – at least in women.

Figures from the British Medical Journal (BMJ), show that sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit flavoured drinks and sports and energy drinks, make up 39% of added sugar in US diets.

It also found that 12% of the US population drinks more than three servings of these drinks every day.

The study from Gut monitored 95,464 participants over 24 years, taking into account what they ate and drank as well as family history of bowel cancer and lifestyle.

Over the years, it was found that 109 women developed bowel cancer before the age of 50, with higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in adulthood being connected to higher risk of the disease.

Those who drank two or more servings of the drink every day were thought to be twice as likely to develop bowel cancer, compared to women who drank less than one serving in a week.

Each daily serving of the drink was linked with a 16% higher risk, which rose to 32% per daily serving during the teenage years.

If these drinks were substituted with artificially sweetened beverages, coffee, or semi-skimmed or whole milk, the risk of bowel cancer was 36% lower.

Though this was an observational study that can’t establish cause, it was concluded that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks may contribute to early onset of bowel cancer.

It added: “Reducing intake and/or [substitution] with other healthier beverages among adolescents and young adults may serve as a potential actionable strategy to alleviate the growing burden of bowel cancer before the age of 50.”

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Common symptoms of bowel cancer includes persistent change in bowel habits, blood in poo and stomach pain


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Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. According to the NHS website, more than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one or a combinations of the following symptoms:

  • A persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain. The shape of your poo may also be narrow.

  • Blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids

  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – this could result in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.

If you’re worried about any signs or symptoms, contact your GP and/or check the NHS website for more information.

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