Rapid Review Quiz: Artificial Sweeteners

Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD


November 14, 2022

In a recent large, prospective study, researchers examined associations between drinking sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages and various cancers. Specifically, the team determined the correlation between different beverages and dying from any cancer, obesity-related cancer, and 20 individual cancer types.

The 934,777 participants who completed a questionnaire at baseline were cancer-free adults from the Cancer Prevention Study–II prospective cohort. Participants answered questions concerning their lifestyle exposures, medical history, and habits, including how many sugar-sweetened and/or artificially-sweetened drinks they consume each day.

Throughout a 28-year follow-up, 135,093 participants died from cancer. The researchers found that consuming two or more artificially-sweetened beverages daily was linked to a 5% increased risk for death from pancreatic cancer. Daily consumption of artificially-sweetened drinks was also associated with an increased risk for death from obesity-related cancers, but after controlling for body mass index (BMI), the association became null.

After adjusting for BMI, consuming two or more sugar-sweetened drinks daily was associated with an increased risk of dying from kidney cancer and colorectal cancer. Surprisingly, sugary beverage consumption was associated with a lower risk for esophageal and lung cancer mortality. This association held for lung cancer but not esophageal cancer among never-smoking participants.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer.


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