Moms – listen up. There’s a new study dominating the news that was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, which links soft drinks and other sweetened beverages to an increased risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women. Should we believe it?
I’ve also been asked on numerous occasions about this article and if the content should be believed.
But here is what I believe:
We see things in the media, we read articles in magazines or our friends post something on Facebook that starts to make us think. And another factor on social media is that when a “friend” posts something, we tend to agree because they are our friend, right?! Well, sensationalism of a study or an article is a major pet peeve of mine.
As a registered dietitian, I am a nutrition expert and health professional. I have a four-year degree heavily based in science and a one year internship that was clinically focused, using research to base my recommendations on. I have 12 years of experience as a registered dietitian. And what we read isn’t always what it may seem.
First of all, let me give you some information on endometrial cancer.
The Mayo Clinic states common risk factors as changes in female hormones, older age, obesity, and inherited genetic conditions – not sugar or beverage consumption.
National Cancer Institute information shows that endometrial cancer primarily affects postmenopausal women with an average age of about 60 years when diagnosed. The known risk factors include obesity, a high-fat diet, reproductive factors such as early menarche and late menopause, and postmenopausal estrogen usage.
So back to the study that links soft drinks and other sweetened beverages to a higher risk of endometrial cancer. Four issues arise with this study.
- Association does not equal causation. Just because something is associated with something, it doesn’t mean it causes it. For example, ecologists at one time believed that poisonous algae were killing fish, it turned out that the algae was growing where the fish died. The algae did not cause the deaths. It can also be said about those in the study, study participants, who also happened to be overweight, did make choices like drinking sugar sweetened beverages. But they also made choices of eating sugar sweetened desserts. It’s tempting to assume that one thing causes another, but it might be that both patterns are caused by something else. More information is needed.
- There was a study in same journal in 2011 (Cancer Epidemiology) that showed no link between soda and this cancer. Another reason that more research needs to be done.
- Among the people in the study, the upper range for soda consumption was from 1 can to 36 cans/week. This is a pretty large range to know if any conclusions can be drawn from it.
- This study only measured dietary behaviors at the very beginning of the study, yet makes conclusions about health outcomes over a 12 year period.
- There are numerous factors that have been associated with a decreased risk for endometrial cancer – including a diet low in fat, a diet high in plant foods, consumption of soy products and use of combined oral contraceptives for at least a year – which the authors failed to factor into this study.
My take? I will continue to drink a sugar-sweetened beverage occasionally and not be ruled by fear. Until more research is done, I won’t draw any conclusions from this study. I believe in balance.
And that article that refers to “8 Foods Even the Experts Won’t Eat”? Well, first of all, real science is not sensationalized by the overdone ads on their page (many inappropriate). Here’s what I want you to know about the eight foods mentioned in this article:
- Canned tomatoes are in my kitchen. Here’s why. You can also find BPA information at the bottom of my post.
- You need to know these facts about beef.
- Microwave popcorn bag linings are generally recognized as safe by the FDA. The CDC advises a sensible approach to microwave popcorn as appropriate – let the bag cool before opening to minimize the vapors.
- Conventional potatoes are a nutritious and safe choice. Here’s what you need to know. A child could consume 6494 servings of potatoes in one day without any health effect even if the potatoes have the highest pesticide residue recorded for potatoes by USDA. Scientists and health experts overwhelmingly agree that the mere presence of pesticide residues on food does not mean they are harmful. Check out www.safefruitsandveggies.com
- Get the facts on the safety of farmed salmon, how it’s regulated and why’s it is a nutritious choice from www.fishwatch.gov.
- You might have seen my recent post on Milk – 4 Things You Need to Know. I wrote about my first-hand experiences with the dairy industry.
- GMO – the truth about food biotechnology. If you’ve ever wondered about GMO, you need to read my series, it’s a gathering of facts based on science.
- Want to know how much pesticides are on your apples? I would have to consume 529 servings of apples in one day WITHOUT any effect even if the apples had the highest pesticide residue recorded by the USDA. A pesticide residue calculator can be found at www.safefruitsandveggies.com
As a mom, we deserve to know the truth. Let’s make our food choices based on facts, not fear.
Have a question about another food? Let me know in the comments.
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post by DDC Digital Communications. I only work with companies that I believe in and share my values. All statements are my own opinion.