Consumption of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks and risk of obesity-related cancers

Public Health Nutr. 2018 Jun;21(9):1618-1626. doi: 10.1017/S1368980017002555. Epub 2018 Feb 21.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that more frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks would be associated with increased risk of obesity-related cancers. Associations for artificially sweetened soft drinks were assessed for comparison.

Design: Prospective cohort study with cancers identified by linkage to cancer registries. At baseline, participants completed a 121-item FFQ including separate questions about the number of times in the past year they had consumed sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened soft drinks. Anthropometric measurements, including waist circumference, were taken and questions about smoking, leisure-time physical activity and intake of alcoholic beverages were completed.

Setting: The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS) is a prospective cohort study which recruited 41 514 men and women aged 40-69 years between 1990 and 1994. A second wave of data collection occurred in 2003-2007.

Subjects: Data for 35 593 participants who developed 3283 incident obesity-related cancers were included in the main analysis.

Results: Increasing frequency of consumption of both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks was associated with greater waist circumference at baseline. For sugar-sweetened soft drinks, the hazard ratio (HR) for obesity-related cancers increased as frequency of consumption increased (HR for consumption >1/d v. 1/d v. <1/month=1·00; 95 % CI 0·79, 1·27; P-trend=0·61).

Conclusions: Our results add to the justification to minimise intake of sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Keywords: Artificially sweetened soft drinks; Obesity-related cancers; Prospective study; Sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Sugars / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Sugars / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects*
  • Sweetening Agents / analysis


  • Dietary Sugars
  • Sweetening Agents