Consumption of Sweet Beverages and Cancer Risk. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

Nutrients. 2021 Feb 4;13(2):516. doi: 10.3390/nu13020516.


The consumption of sweet beverages, including sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), artificial-sweetened beverages (ASB) and fruit juices (FJ), is associated with the risk of different cardiometabolic diseases. It may also be linked to the development of certain types of tumors. We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies aimed at examining the association between sweet beverage intake and cancer risk. Suitable articles published up to June 2020 were sourced through PubMed, Web of Science and SCOPUS databases. Overall, 64 studies were identified, of which 27 were selected for the meta-analysis. This was performed by analyzing the multivariable-adjusted OR, RR or HR of the highest sweet beverage intake categories compared to the lowest one. Random effects showed significant positive association between SSB intake and breast (RR: 1.14, 95% CI: 1.01-1.30) and prostate cancer risk (RR: 1.18, 95% CI: 1.10-1.27) and also between FJs and prostate cancer risk (RR: 1.03, 95% CI: 1.01-1.05). Although the statistically significant threshold was not reached, there tended to be positive associations for the following: SSBs and colorectal and pancreatic cancer risk; FJs and breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancer risk; and ASBs and pancreatic cancer risk. This study recommends limiting sweet beverage consumption. Furthermore, we propose to establish a homogeneous classification of beverages and investigate them separately, to better understand their role in carcinogenesis.

Keywords: artificial sweetened beverages; cancer; case-control; cohort; fruit juice; meta-analysis; sugar-sweetened beverages; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificially Sweetened Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Artificially Sweetened Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices / adverse effects*
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Observational Studies as Topic*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverages / statistics & numerical data