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A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition examined whether added sugars can affect prostate cancer risk.

Little information is known about how increased added sugars in the diet affects the development of prostate cancer. We do know that chronic inflammation and prostate cancer are linked, therefore substances that increase inflammation need to be researched. Sugar-dense foods often lack fibre and phytonutrients and cause inflammation.

A recent study followed men consuming high levels of sugar over a period of nine years and established a link with prostate cancer development in these participants. The study collated data gathered from multiple locations such as Alabama, Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington DC in the United States. Ten screening centres enrolled men between 55-74, and participants with cancer before the questionnaires were administered were excluded. The results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The study investigated levels of concentrated sugar present in various foods, including sugars present beverages, fruit juices, and dessert foods. While fruit juices have naturally occurring sugar in high amounts, other foods have processed sugar in high amounts, and the study did focus on including these differences and their effects on developing prostate cancer.

The researchers found that high levels of sugars from beverages sweetened with sugar are associated with increased prostate cancer risk in men in the upper fourth and third quartile of sugar intake. Additionally, consumption of sugar through desserts did not have an impact on prostate cancer.

Race did not modify the association of sugars with prostate cancer occurrences. Moreover, physiological differences in how these sugars are processed in the body and events associated with digestion and metabolism can vary even though the structure of natural sugar and added sugar are the same, which is an important reason for the differences.

The study did not find an increased risk of prostate cancer in individuals who consumed fruit and vegetable juices with naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetable juices. This finding is a huge development wherein people can focus on healthier lifestyle choices, particularly with regards to prostate cancer prevention. Identifying that added sugar in beverages consumed makes a difference allows people to focus on healthier drink choices.

Limitations of this study include possible errors in measurement of concentrated and added sugar due to information bias or wrongly reported numbers. Nevertheless, this study leads to the important conclusion that increased consumption of concentrated sugars adds to prostate cancer risk by activating inflammatory molecules.

Written by Sonia Leslie Fernandez, Medical News Writer

Reference: Miles, F. L., Neuhouser, M. L., & Zhang, Z. F. (2018). Concentrated sugars and incidence of prostate cancer in a prospective cohort. British Journal of Nutrition, 1-8.

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