Added sugar and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and the risk of pancreatic cancer in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;88(2):431-40. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/88.2.431.


Background: Although it has been hypothesized that hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance are involved in the development of pancreatic cancer, results from epidemiologic studies of added sugar intake are inconclusive.

Objective: Our objective was to investigate whether the consumption of total added sugar and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages is associated with pancreatic cancer risk.

Design: In 1995 and 1996, we prospectively examined 487 922 men and women aged 50-71 y and free of cancer and diabetes. Total added dietary sugar intake (in tsp/d; based on the US Department of Agriculture's Pyramid Servings Database) was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire. Relative risks (RRs) and 95% CIs were calculated with adjustment for total energy and potential confounding factors.

Results: During an average 7.2 y of follow-up, 1258 incident pancreatic cancer cases were ascertained. The median intakes for the lowest and highest quintiles of total added sugar intake were 12.6 (3 tsp/d) and 96.2 (22.9 tsp/d) g/d, respectively. No overall greater risk of pancreatic cancer was observed in men or women with high intake of total added sugar or sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. For men and women combined, the multivariate RRs of the highest versus lowest intake categories were 0.85 (95% CI: 0.68, 1.06; P for trend = 0.07) for total added sugar, 1.01 (0.82,1.23; P for trend = 0.58) for sweets, 0.98 (0.82,1.18; P for trend = 0.49) for dairy desserts, 1.12 (0.91,1.39; P for trend = 0.35) for sugar added to coffee and tea, and 1.01 (0.77,1.31; P for trend = 0.76) for regular soft drinks.

Conclusion: Our results do not support the hypothesis that consumption of added sugar or of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages is associated with overall risk of pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Beverages
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / complications
  • Hyperinsulinism / complications
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Sucrose