Sarah from Roseville, New South Wales, Australia asked:

Can soft drinks cause cancer?

I saw on CNN that consuming soft drinks increases your risk of developing cancer. Should I stop drinking them?

Our answer

There are about 16 packs of sugar in a 600ml bottle of regular soft drink, so regular consumption of soft drinks results in an abnormally high sugar intake. The sugar content of a 600ml bottle means you are consuming around 1000 unnecessary kilojoules. While the sugar itself does not directly increase your cancer risk, the excess kilojoules contribute to overweight and obesity, which are known risk factors for bowel, breast, pancreatic and other cancers. There have also been claims that chemicals in soft drinks can increase cancer risk. While some studies have detected very low levels of chemicals such as benzene and 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel) in certain soft drinks, there is no evidence they increase the risk of cancer at the low levels found in soft drinks. The chemicals have been found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) in other types of exposures, but at far higher levels than present in food or drink. Good diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight are recognised ways to reduce your risk of cancer and other disease.

This page was last updated on: July 23, 2013
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