Sugar link to pancreatic cancer needs further study says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer Research UK has called for further research following a study claiming that high sugar intake may be linked to pancreatic cancer.

The connection was suggested by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which carried out a survey of the dietary habits of 80,000 people over eight years between 1997 and 2005.

During the study, 131 people developed pancreatic cancer, with those who drank soft drinks at least twice a day reportedly at a higher risk of the disease than those who didn't drink them.

Several lines of evidence have suggested a link between diet and pancreatic cancer, but pinning down which component of a person's diet is responsible has proved tricky.

Many researchers suspect a link between the disease and levels of insulin, which vary with sugar intake, and this research lends weight to this theory.

Cancer Research UK welcomed the research, but pointed out that pancreatic cancer rates were falling as people gave up smoking, which also causes the disease.

"The latest figures show that pancreatic cancer rates fell by five per cent between 1997 and 2003," said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK.

"But this is probably because more people are giving up smoking, which is a major established cause of the disease.

"We know that a person's diet has a significant effect on their risk of several types of cancer including pancreatic cancer.

"This report highlights the need for further research to understand the specific effect of sugar intake on pancreatic cancer risk."

The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.