Pancreatic cancer tied to fizzy drinks and sugar

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pancreatic cancerSTOCKHOLM - People who drink large quantities of fizzy drinks or add sugar to coffee or tea run a higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, Swedish research showed on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute studied the diets of almost 80,000 men and women between 1997 and 2005. A total of 131 developed pancreatic cancer, a deadly form of the disease that is difficult to treat.

“The researchers have now been able to show that the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is related to the amount of sugar in the diet,” the institute said in a statement.

The group of people who said they drank fizzy or syrup-based drinks twice a day or more ran a 90 percent higher risk of getting cancer of the pancreas than those who never drank them.

The risk was 70 percent higher for those who added sugar to their drinks about five times a day, and 50 percent for those eating creamed fruit, a sugary, fruit-based Swedish dessert, at least once a day, according to the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Despite the fact that the chances of developing pancreatic cancer are relatively small, it’s important to learn more about the risk factors behind the disease,” Susanna Larsson, one of the researchers involved in the study, said in the statement.

About 216,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer, mostly in developed countries, are diagnosed each year. The illness is most common in people aged over 60. It is difficult to treat because it is often not diagnosed until it has spread beyond the pancreas.

“It is perhaps the most serious form of cancer, with very poor prognoses for its victims. Since it’s difficult to treat and is often discovered too late, it’s particularly important that we learn to prevent it,” Larsson said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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