Press releases

07 May 2021

Bowel cancer study coverage masks flaws

Heavy consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks may raise the risk of developing bowel cancer before the age of 50, a new study has claimed.

Researchers analysed dietary and medical records of more than 95,000 women tracked from 1991 to 2015 as part of the US Nurses’ Health II study and looked for evidence linking sugar-sweetened drinks to early diagnosis of bowel cancer.

Only 109 women who enrolled in the study were diagnosed with early onset bowel cancer. Among them, only 16 reported drinking more than a pint of sugar-sweetened drinks a day.

Gavin Partington, BSDA Director General, said: 

“The fact is that soft drinks are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet. Not only does this study fail to provide evidence of cause, it also does not make clear what other consumption or lifestyle behaviours may have impacted the results. Soft drinks manufacturers have worked hard to provide consumers with a range of options and have long led the way in reformulation work. Take-home sugar from soft drinks fell by 43.5% between March 2014 and March 2020 (Kantar Worldpanel), and in 2019 low- and no-calorie soft drinks accounted for 68.2% of category sales (Global Data).”