Most of us indulge in a not so healthy treat from time to time. After all, everything in moderation, right?
Well it turns out if you’re talking about soft drinks, it may be time to ditch the old moderation rule. Because researchers say drinking even a moderate amount of sugary soda may send your risk for pancreatic cancer soaring.
According to the study, downing just two soft drinks a day was associated with an almost two fold increase in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, compared to folks who never touched the stuff.
And while experts aren’t exactly sure why, they have a theory.
Sodas are full of sugar, of course. And when you drink them, they cause your insulin levels to soar. Experts believe those glucose-driven insulin spikes may trigger the development and growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
Pancreatic cancer risk soared in soft drink fans
Researchers tracked over 60,000 volunteers in the Singapore Chinese Health Study for 14 years. Study participants who drank two or more sodas a day—an average of five a week—had an 87 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to their peers who didn’t drink soda.
And while it’s true soda drinkers may have other bad habits, it appears that the effects of the sugary soft drinks on your pancreas may be unique. Because while they were linked to a higher risk for pancreatic cancer, drinking fruit juice, for example, wasn’t.
Plus the researchers adjusted their findings for other factors which could have affected the results such as age, body mass index and whether or not the person was a smoker or had diabetes.
The study wasn’t the kind that proves a cause and effect relationship. A fact the soft drink industry was quick to point out. But there is more than enough smoke here to assume there is a fire.
Besides, you don’t need me to tell you there are plenty of other reasons to ditch those sugary soft drinks anyway.
Slash your risk of pancreatic cancer up to 50%
Pancreatic cancer is rare. But it’s also extremely deadly, with only five percent of people diagnosed surviving five years later. And that makes early diagnosis even more important.
But unlike many other cancers, pancreatic cancer symptoms can be so subtle they’re easy to miss. Which makes reducing your risk in the first place even more critical.
You can start by swearing off soft drinks and quitting smoking. But don’t stop there. Following are two more things you can do to support your pancreas and slash your risk for pancreatic cancer.
1. Eat more fruit:
Researchers say eating more fruit may help slow the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. And it could help curb their spread.
Experts say polyphenols, such as quercetin and resveratrol, found in certain plant foods are likely responsible. These natural antioxidants help curb the oxidative stress and inflammation that are behind cancer.
In animal experiments, mice which received quercetin supplements survived 34 percent longer than mice which didn’t. The antioxidant, found in apples, inhibited the spread of the malignant cells. And it caused cancer cells to die.
Other polyphenols found in fruits and veggies have shown promise too. When combined with pancreatic cancer cells in the lab, rutin (found in green tea), resveratrol (found in grapes) and genistein (found in tempeh and miso) all showed some cancer-fighting abilities.
And in an Italian study a diet rich in the polyphenols found in apples, pears and grapes appeared to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 25 percent.
2. Eat more vegetables:
According to researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, eating five or more servings of certain vegetables every day could slash your pancreatic cancer risk by up to 50 percent.
Researchers surveyed the diets of 2,233 men and women, including over 500 pancreatic cancer patients. After crunching the numbers, certain vegetables were clear winners when it came to providing protection against pancreatic cancer.
- “yellow” veggies (such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash)
- dark leafy greens
- cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage)
Volunteers who ate at least five servings of the protective produce every day had a 50 percent lower risk of the cancer compared to folks who ate two or less.
In other words, eating a few more servings of vegetables a day may significantly reduce your own pancreatic cancer risk. A serving is about a half cup of cooked veggies, or two cups of a leafy green. Eat some of those servings raw and experts say they may offer even more protection.
Don’t let this killer come for you, or someone you love. Fill your menu with plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables. And kick the soda habit starting today.