It is hard to avoid having a sweet tooth with so many temptations around but it may time for a New Year Resolution to give it up, or at least cut down for your health’s sake. A study published in the journal BMC Public Health, reports that women have a greater risk factor for breast cancer if they also consume fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
What’s the problem?
If you are having more than three sugary drinks a week (including sweetened fruit juice) then you may well have a greater risk of developing breast cancer.
In this latest study, 1,555 women (half of whom were pre-menopausal and half of whom were postmenopausal) answered a questionnaire about how often they drank sugar-sweetened fruit juice and fizzy drinks (one serving being 355ml, about the size of a normal can of fizzy drink). Afterwards, the women’s breast density – a major breast cancer risk factor — was measured through mammogram screening.
The researchers found that breast density increased (density being a major breast cancer risk factor) with a higher consumption of sweetened fruit juice and fizzy drinks. Research has already shown that women with high breast density have a higher risk of cancer because there are more cells to develop the disease. This type of denser breast cancer is more likely to be missed through conventional breast screening methods like mammograms, because any areas of abnormal tissue are harder to spot.
The risk may be that by eating more sugar it increases density in breast tissue by stimulating cell growth. However, others believe the real danger is caused by the increased weight as a result of consuming sugary and fizzy drinks.
The risk is not just confined to breast cancer either as the results of an earlier study, conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US, linked aspartame to certain types of blood cancer in some individuals and HFCS has been linked to pancreatic cancer. A research team from the Karolinska Institute discovered that consumption of two or more fizzy drinks per day was linked to a 93 per cent greater risk of pancreatic cancer.
There is no doubt that if you want maximum protection from breast cancer you need to address a number of factors and diet is certainly one of the key ones. The other is hormone balance as oestrogen dominance is also linked to breast cancer and rebalancing with progesterone can help protect the breast.