Your child’s health: Soft drinks linked to cancer

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As the mother of a child who has had cancer and having been to the dark and terrifying place that is children’s oncology, believe me, you’ll want to be doing everything in your power to minimise the risks of your children ever ending up there… no matter what their age, for they will always be your children.

So here is the latest on prevention and keeping your little one’s health in great condition.

New research: Soft drinks linked to cancer

New research out of the University of Melbourne and the Cancer Council Victoria has found a positive association between soft drink consumption and cancer risk, and the more sugary soft drinks participants drank, the higher their risk of cancer.

The researchers studied more than 35,000 Australians who developed over 3000 cases of obesity-related cancers.

“Initially our hypothesis was that drinking soft drinks would cause obesity, which would then cause an association with obesity-related cancers, but we found that there was more beyond the effect of obesity,” said the lead researcher, Associate Professor Allison Hodge, a Senior Research Fellow at Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Melbourne.

The study found that people who regularly drink sugary soft drinks are more at risk of several types of cancer than those who don’t, regardless of their weight.

“Our research found this risk existed for all participants, no matter their size,” said Dr Hodge.

“Even people who are not overweight have an increased cancer risk if they regularly drink sugary soft drinks,” she said.

The research did not find the same link between diet varieties of soft drink and cancer, which suggested to the researchers that “sugar was a key contributor”.

The kids

While this study looked at adult soft drink consumption, according to Jane Martin, Executive Manager at Obesity Policy Coalition, the problem is likely even more significant for children and teenagers.

“Younger Australians are consuming significantly more sugary drinks than older people, they are widely available and often discounted,” says Ms Martin.

“Big brands bombard kids with marketing for these unhealthy sugary drinks, including through sport, which can set kids up for a lifetime of health problems,” she says.

Cancer is just one of many chronic health conditions associated with sugary drink consumption. Others that parents need to be aware of include; obesity, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, impaired brain development, depression and anxiety.

Diet alternative soft drinks are not the answer

Even though the research did not find a connection between diet soft drink varieties and cancer, they did find that regular drinkers of artificially sweetened soft drinks are just as prone to obesity and its associated health risks as those who regularly drink the sugar-sweetened variety.

The answer

We couldn’t agree more with Cancer Council Victoria’s chief executive, Todd Harper, who says that this new research “provides yet another reason for Australians, young and old, to switch to water.”

Read More

Paediatric obesity is a massive problem: You can help make a difference.

Sugar – as bad for the developing brain as extreme stress or abuse.

Dental hygiene for babies and toddlers.

How diet affects brain development.

Help children develop healthy eating habits from the start.

Bindy Cummings is a teacher, GymbaROO early childhood neurodevelopmental consultant and early childhood development lecturer. She is the Editor of GymbaROO’s ‘First Steps’ magazine and online articles. More on Bindy Cummings here.

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