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Soda and Pancreatic Cancer

Several news outlets (WebMD;US News and World Report;Reuters) have reported a recent study of the National Cancer Institute, that found that drinking as little as two sweetened soft drinks a week could double the risk of pancreatic cancer. Researchers participating in the study announced that the reason for a relationship of cancer and the consumption of sweetened sodas, may be connected to the abnormal division of cells as a result of higher blood sugar and insulin levels.

If you click on any of these links, it will give you more details on the study. For instance, in the study, those that drank an average of five sweetened sodas per week had an 87% increase in risk. As you read the entire study, it will certainly give you pause about whether you should be drinking soft drinks. In addition, I don't think that you will be surprised at the reaction of the American Beverage Association.

According to one Beverage industry consultant countering the findings of the study, "the study has weaknesses in it". Dr Richard Adamson indicates that because there is such a small amount of people who actually are diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer each year, that the findings are skewed, because it does not represent a fair study of the entire population. The Beverage Association also takes exception to the focus on soft drinks rather than an overall analysis of dietary patterns.  

One of the participants of the study, Dr Noel T Mueller, of Georgetown University Medical Center, says that the study did consider other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes and body mass index. Despite this, the findings linked the sugary sodas because "What we believe is the sugar in the soft drinks is the increasing of the insulin level in the body, which contributes to pancreatic cell growth".

In reading these articles, I immediately scanned to the bottom of the articles. Since being involved in Pharmaceutical litigation, I have almost grown accustomed to the excuses in response to any study that may point to the causation of a disease like cancer. The argument goes that, just too many things can cause cancer, to be able to definitely determine one specific cause. If people believe such statements and ignore studies, then, I guess, scientific studies really mean nothing. They only are to be considered, so goes corporate and Big Business talking heads, when they don't suggest something that might attack corporate profits.

In these articles, I half expected to see them argue that maybe the Wooly Bear Caterpillar is more to blame for growing an especially dense coat this winter. Or maybe, because Joe Namath stumbled out of his New York abode and reportedly saw his shadow, that these studies failed to consider additional factors like weather and sunshine. To me, I don't need to hear that Goat herders are forming figure 8's in the desert with their goats, to suggest that maybe we should pay attention to this report.  Anyone not in the beverage industry will probably think twice before downing 2 sodas, until another study comes out to convince us with a "never mind". 


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