Purpose: Observational studies have demonstrated increased colon cancer recurrence and mortality in states of excess energy balance, as denoted by factors including sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, increased dietary glycemic load, and increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Nonetheless, the relation between artificially sweetened beverages, a popular alternative for sugar-sweetened beverages, and colon cancer recurrence and survival is unknown.
Methods: We analyzed data from 1,018 patients with stage III colon cancer who prospectively reported dietary intake during and after chemotherapy while enrolled in a National Cancer Institute-sponsored trial of adjuvant chemotherapy. Using Cox proportional hazards regressions, we assessed associations of artificially sweetened beverage intake with cancer recurrence and mortality.
Results: Patients consuming one or more 12-ounce servings of artificially sweetened beverages per day experienced an adjusted hazard ratio for cancer recurrence or mortality of 0.54 (95% confidence interval, 0.36 to 0.80) when compared to those who largely abstained (Ptrend = .004). Similarly, increasing artificially sweetened beverage intake was also associated with a significant improvement in both recurrence-free survival (Ptrend = .005) and overall survival (Ptrend = .02). Substitution models demonstrated that replacing a 12-ounce serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage with an isovolumetric serving of an artificially sweetened beverage per day was associated with a 23% lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality (relative risk, 0.77; 95% confidence interval, 0.63 to 0.95; P = .02).
Conclusion: Higher artificially sweetened beverage consumption may be associated with significantly reduced cancer recurrence and death in patients with stage III colon cancer. This association may be mediated by substitution for sugar-sweetened alternatives. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.