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You may pay attention to the ingredients in the foods you eat, but what about when it comes to what you drink? People who gulp the most sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices have a higher risk of cancer, according to a new study.

The French study links drinking just a small glass of a sugary drink per day — 100 mL, or about one-third of a typical can of soda — to an 18% increased cancer risk overall and a 22% increased breast cancer risk.

The study also found a link between 100% fruit juices and increased risk for cancer. On average, the men observed consumed more sugary drinks than women on a daily basis — about 90 mL compared to about 74 mL.

“Sip for sip, regular sodas and 100% fruit juice contain the same calories and similar amounts of the sugar fructose,” said Moffitt Cancer Center registered dietitian Diane Riccardi. “Our bodies don’t distinguish between the fructose in soda in the form of high fructose corn syrup and the naturally occurring fructose, or fruit sugar, in juice. Regardless of the type of sugar, too many sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and obesity.”   

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends we avoid sugary drinks for cancer risk reduction because of the link to obesity. While this study analyzed data from more than 100,000 adults over nine years to assess their risk for cancer, it is strictly observational and does not prove that sugary drinks directly cause cancer.

“Try not to drink your calories,” said Riccardi. “Choose low-calorie alternatives to regular soda such as unsweetened iced tea or fruit-infused water. If you want to drink juice for a vitamin and mineral boost, try diluting the juice in half or forgo the juice and choose a fresh fruit in its whole form.”