sugary drinks cause cancer

Do Sugary Drinks Cause Cancer?

Whenever a new study reports some alarming new finding, our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter receive panicked questions from our patients, wondering if they’re endangering themselves or their families.

The most recent example is a French study published this month in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) involving more than 100,000 adults which showed an increased risk of cancer in those who consumed approximately two sugary drinks a week. This included both non-diet sodas and 100 percent fruit juice.

The study

While more women than men participated in the study—79 percent to 21 percent—the men consumed on average more sugary drinks than did the women. The researchers controlled for such known cancer risk factors as family history, age, sex, physical activity, educational level, birth control pills, and smoking status.

The researchers gave questionnaires to 101,257 healthy French adults over a nine-year period. Of those, 2,193 cancers were diagnosed: 693 breast cancers, 166 colorectal cancers, and 291 prostate cancers. This equates to an 18 percent overall higher risk of cancer; that is, four additional cases of cancer over five years for every 1,000 people studied. The increased risk for breast cancer was 22 percent for pre-menopausal women and 44 percent for post-menopausal women.

Unlike some food questionnaires which ask participants to recall what they ate over previous days or weeks, this one was a food diary, asking participants to record everything they ate and drank over a three-day period every two years. This allowed for more accurate data gathering.

Any drink containing more than 5 percent sugar was considered “sugary,” including pure fruit juice, sodas, milkshakes, energy drinks, and hot drinks such as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to which sugar was added.

Other studies

Another similar study, published in May in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found similar results. This study, from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found a correlation between consumption of sugary drinks and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and an increased risk of death from any cause as high as 42 percent.

Although no definitive study has shown that sugar actually causes cancer, a 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications supports previous data showing that not only is there a correlation between sugar consumption and the proliferation of cancer cells, but that cancer cells take in a greater amount of sugar than normal cells, helping them to thrive and multiply long past the time they would normally die.

The caveats

As scientists often say, “correlation does not prove causation.” This means that other factors, which were not accounted for in these studies, could be at play.

It’s possible that variables not accounted for, such as salt intake, calorie intake, other types of food consumed, even the caramel coloring added to the sodas—which has been implicated in certain cancers—could play a role. It’s even possible that non-dietary factors, such as stress, income fluctuations, or environmental toxins, could have affected the results.

Because the human body is so complex, it’s difficult to attribute cause and effect in any nutritional study.

Nevertheless . . .

Regardless, a large body of studies over many years has fairly well established that excessive consumption of sugar in any form has a negative impact on overall health.

“While this study doesn’t offer a definitive causative answer about sugar and cancer, it does add to the overall picture of the importance of the current drive to reduce our sugar intake,” Amelia Lake, a dietitian and reader in public heath nutrition at Teesside University, who was not involved in the study, told the Science Media Centre in the UK.

“Clearly there is more work to be done and measuring dietary intake is challenging; however, the message from the totality of evidence on excess sugar consumption and various health outcomes is clear—reducing the amount of sugar in our diet is extremely important.”

According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than six teaspoons a day (25 grams, or about one average candy bar) and men should have no more than nine teaspoons a day (37 grams). Given the results of this study, we suspect less would be even better.

If you have questions about this or any other nutritional issue, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

swimming bug

Watch Out for This Unpleasant Swimming Pool ‘Bug’

What would summer be without the silky feel of warm water caressing hot skin as you glide across a swimming pool?

But as a timely reminder that nothing is perfect, this month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta published a report warning swimmers to take precautions against a microscopic parasite that can take up residence in pools and water playgrounds. So our concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to alert you to this possible hazard.

Symptoms and Causes

The infection, Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto,” is the most common cause of diarrhea and occurs when swimmers swallow pool water which is infected with it. The resulting illness can last for up to three weeks, leaving sufferers with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and, possibly, dehydration as a result.

The CDC’s June report noted that, between 2009-2017, reported outbreaks have increased an average of 13 percent per year. Thirty-five percent of the outbreaks were linked to swimming in pools and water playgrounds; 15 percent were linked to contact with cattle, particularly nursing calves; 13 percent were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings; and three percent were linked to drinking raw (i.e., unpasteurized) milk or apple cider.

Tough to Kill

Unlike other swimming pool infections, Crypto is resistant to the typical concentration of chlorine. Crypto is protected by an outer shell that makes it tough to kill, the CDC reports. For example, it can survive for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds or on surfaces disinfected with chlorine bleach.

Crypto can easily cause outbreaks because it only takes a few germs to make someone sick, and there can be millions of Crypto germs in feces.

Even in pools which are treated to recommended levels, the Crypto parasite can survive for up to 10 days. The only way to respond to an outbreak of Crypto, the CDC says, is closing the pool and treating the water with high levels of chlorine, called hyperchlorination.

“Young children can get seriously sick and easily spread Crypto,” said Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “They don’t know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how. But we as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals, and in childcare.”


According to the CDC, outbreaks caused by Crypto occur most commonly in the summer. It recommends the following steps to protect yourself and others:


• Do not swim or let kids swim if they have diarrhea.

• If diagnosed with Cryptosporidiosis, do not swim until two weeks after diarrhea completely stops.

• Do not swallow the water you swim in.

• Keep kids with diarrhea at home and away from childcare.

• Wash your hands with soap and water after coming in contact with animals or anything in their environment, especially animal feces. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work effectively with Crypto.

• Take kids on frequent bathroom breaks, and don’t change diapers in the pool area—do so in a diaper-changing area away from the pool.

• Rinse off in the shower before getting into the water to help remove any germs on your body that could contaminate the pool water.

• Remove shoes worn in animal environments (barns, pens, etc.) before going inside your home.

• If you drink milk or apple cider, buy only pasteurized types.


Those with healthy immune systems don’t require special treatment if they contract this unpleasant bug. However, the CDC warns that those who are especially young or old or who have compromised immune systems are at increased risk for life-threatening dehydration or malnutrition. If your immune system is compromised in any way, you develop blood in your stools, are having trouble staying hydrated, or if the illness lasts longer than 10 days, be sure to let us know.

jupiter inflammation doctor

Inflammation: The Silent Killer

If our concierge primary doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter could pinpoint a single factor that is responsible for more illnesses than any other, it might be inflammation. This is the result of various attacks on the body by irritating or even harmful stressors on the body, such as pathogens, injuries, or poor lifestyle habits. The body then tries to heal the resulting tissue damage by rushing white blood cells and their protective chemicals to the site.

Thus, inflammation is necessary to keep the body healthy. But when the body is repeatedly assaulted by various harmful stimuli, the inflammation never ends and can eventually cause long-term damage.


What is inflammation?

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute is the healthy kind, in which the body mounts a defense against sudden injury or illness like the flu. Chronic is the dangerous kind, in which the body spends months or even years attempting to fight off constant, lower-level threats, such as pollution, poor nutrition, and the effects of ongoing stress.


A cause, not just a result

Because inflammation is seen with injuries, people used to believe it was the result of disease or illness. But over the years, it became more apparent that inflammation actually caused numerous chronic and deadly diseases.


Some of these include:

  • allergies
  • Alzheimer’s
  • anemia
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • colitis
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • gout
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • psoriasis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • wrinkles and other signs of aging


Inflammation linked to heart disease

The deadliest condition that was recently confirmed to be linked to inflammation is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading killer not only in the United States, but also worldwide, claiming the lives of 634,000 people in this country and 15 million people around the world in 2015.

The connection between inflammation and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) has been suspected since the 1800s. No definitive research had actually confirmed this hypothesis, however, until a study released in 2017.

Known as CANTOS, the study included over 10,000 patients who had previously suffered a heart attack and were then were given a drug meant to reduce inflammation. The drug, which costs about $200,000 per year, is not only prohibitively expensive, but its fatal side effects offset any gains in cardiovascular mortality reduction.

So why were cardiologists so excited about this research? Because it proved that reducing inflammation in the body will result in fewer heart attacks. (The drug also proved effective against certain forms of cancer, another illness thought to be tied to chronic inflammation.)

The drug had no effect on cholesterol, which is what is reduced with the use of statins, thus proving that inflammation reduction was solely responsible for the mortality reduction seen in the study. In reducing inflammation and demonstrating a marked decrease (15%) in cardiovascular events or death, it paved the way for possible development of safer, less-costly drugs that can accomplish the same thing.


Prevention is the best route

Of course, we can intervene medically with various drugs and treatment that can address all these illnesses and diseases, but the best treatment is to reduce inflammation before it causes a problem.

Some causes of chronic inflammation are beyond our control. These include environmental pollutants and certain genetic factors.

But many other causes are within our control. Here are some steps you can take to reduce chronic inflammation throughout your body.

  1. Quality sleep

Sleep is when the body lowers cortisol and repairs the damage to cells encountered during the day. Seven to eight hours nightly is optimal.


  1. Exercise

When you engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two hours and thirty minutes every week, the cells release a protein called Interleukin 6, which has an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.


  1. Healthy diet

Poor-quality foods—sugar, salt, fats, processed foods—all trigger inflammation throughout the body. Opt instead for fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, high-quality/low-fat protein, whole grains, beans and legumes, and water.


  1. Stress reduction

Chronic stress causes the body to react with chronic inflammation as it tries to “fight off” what it perceives as an invader. Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, meditation, yoga . . . anything that helps reduce stress will also reduce inflammation.


  1. Stop smoking

Every puff of a cigarette triggers inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system.


If you’d like more information on inflammation’s effect on the body and how to combat it, please talk to us.

asthma doctor

5 Myths About Asthma

If you don’t have asthma, chances are you know someone who does. That’s because an estimated 26 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the population, have this sometimes deadly disease. Because May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, our concierge primary care doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter want to take a closer look at asthma and the common misunderstandings surrounding it.

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How To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

An alarming new report from the American Heart Association (AHA) released last week found that nearly half of all Americans—nearly 121 million adults—have some form of heart disease, defined as those with coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, or high blood pressure. The new figures partly stem from changes in what constitutes high blood pressure or hypertension. In 2017, the cut-off point for what is considered high blood pressure was revised downward, from 140/90 to 130/80, and only about half of those who are now considered hypertensive have it under control.

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