Drinking artificially sweetened beverages is associated with a significantly lower risk of colon cancer recurrence and cancer death, a team of investigators led by a Yale Cancer Center scientist has found. The study was published today in PLOS ONE.
“Artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of purported health risks that have never really been documented,” said the study’s senior author, Charles S. Fuchs, M.D., director of Yale Cancer Center. “Our study clearly shows they help avoid cancer recurrence and death in patients who have been treated for advanced colon cancer, and that is an exciting finding.”
Fuchs and his team of researchers found that in the 1,018-patient analysis, those participants who drank one or more 12-ounce serving of artificially sweetened beverages per day experienced a 46% improvement in risk of cancer recurrence or death, compared to those who didn’t drink these beverages. These “soft drinks” were defined as caffeinated colas, caffeine-free colas, and other carbonated beverages (such as diet ginger ale).
A second analysis found that about half of that benefit was due to substituting an artificially sweetened beverage for a beverage sweetened with sugar.
“While the association between lower colon cancer recurrence and death was somewhat stronger than we suspected, the finding fits in with all that we know about colon cancer risk in general,” Fuchs said. “Factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, a diet linked to diabetes — all of which lead to an excess energy balance — are known risk factors. We now find that, in terms of colon cancer recurrence and survival, use of artificially sweetened drinks is not a health risk, but is, in this study, a healthier choice.”
Reference: “Associations of artificially sweetened beverage intake with disease recurrence and mortality in stage III colon cancer: Results from CALGB 89803 (Alliance)” by Brendan J. Guercio, Sui Zhang, Donna Niedzwiecki, Yanping Li, Ana Babic, Vicente Morales-Oyarvide, Leonard B. Saltz, Robert J. Mayer, Rex B. Mowat, Renaud Whittom, Alexander Hantel, Al Benson, Daniel Atienza, Michael Messino, Hedy Kindler, Alan Venook, Shuji Ogino, Emilie S. Zoltick, Meir Stampfer, Kimmie Ng, Kana Wu, Walter C. Willett, Edward L. Giovannucci, Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt and Charles S. Fuchs, 19 July 2018, PLOS One.