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Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;88(2):431-40.

Added sugar and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and the risk of pancreatic cancer in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

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Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



Although it has been hypothesized that hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance are involved in the development of pancreatic cancer, results from epidemiologic studies of added sugar intake are inconclusive.


Our objective was to investigate whether the consumption of total added sugar and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages is associated with pancreatic cancer risk.


In 1995 and 1996, we prospectively examined 487 922 men and women aged 50-71 y and free of cancer and diabetes. Total added dietary sugar intake (in tsp/d; based on the US Department of Agriculture's Pyramid Servings Database) was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire. Relative risks (RRs) and 95% CIs were calculated with adjustment for total energy and potential confounding factors.


During an average 7.2 y of follow-up, 1258 incident pancreatic cancer cases were ascertained. The median intakes for the lowest and highest quintiles of total added sugar intake were 12.6 (3 tsp/d) and 96.2 (22.9 tsp/d) g/d, respectively. No overall greater risk of pancreatic cancer was observed in men or women with high intake of total added sugar or sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. For men and women combined, the multivariate RRs of the highest versus lowest intake categories were 0.85 (95% CI: 0.68, 1.06; P for trend = 0.07) for total added sugar, 1.01 (0.82,1.23; P for trend = 0.58) for sweets, 0.98 (0.82,1.18; P for trend = 0.49) for dairy desserts, 1.12 (0.91,1.39; P for trend = 0.35) for sugar added to coffee and tea, and 1.01 (0.77,1.31; P for trend = 0.76) for regular soft drinks.


Our results do not support the hypothesis that consumption of added sugar or of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages is associated with overall risk of pancreatic cancer.

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