Do Soft Drinks Cause Cancer?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

We know that soft drinks aren’t healthy for many reasons — one of which is triggering weight gain. However, a study conducted in Singapore has us even more concerned.

According to the study, drinking two or more sodas a week increased the risk for pancreatic cancer by 85% compared to nondrinkers.

Scientists discovered this after tracking more than 60,000 middle-aged people for 14 years.1

They looked at lifestyle, environmental factors, and diet. We should also note that the study was based in a country whose populace, like ours, tends to enjoy (at least) an occasional soft drink.

Soft Drinks Cause Blood Sugar Spikes

Why are soft drinks linked to cancer? Well, it may have to do with their high sugar content. A single soft drink may contain up to 41 grams of sugar2, which is a lot to put into your body at once.

This can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and your pancreas to release large amounts of insulin.

If this happens on a regular basis, it could lead to chronically high levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia), a condition associated with several types of cancers.3

Insulin Helps Cancer Grow

Insulin allows the entry of glucose into cells, where it’s used as an energy source.

Unfortunately, cancer cells need insulin too. In fact, many cancers have insulin receptors which transport glucose to cancerous cells, helping them to grow, divide, and multiply.4-8

Studies show insulin encourages pancreatic cancer cells to grow in a dose-dependent manner, meaning that higher amounts support increased growth.9

The Singapore scientists think this may be a reason why soft drinks are linked to pancreatic cancer.

So if you’re concerned about cancer, it may be wise to avoid soft drinks which can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and insulin levels.

How to Make Sugar-Free Drinks at Home

Let’s face it, most people drink sodas because they taste good...and many of us are hooked. The good news is that you can still enjoy a soda without the sugar or artificial sweeteners.

In fact, seltzer water is a great substitute for soda. It has the fizziness which soda drinkers seem to enjoy, but it doesn’t contain the sugar and calories.

You can drink it alone, or you can mix it with a hint of your favorite fruit juice. Another option is to sweeten your seltzer water with sugar substitutes such as stevia or xylitol. These ingredients are safe, healthy, and they don’t raise blood sugar levels.

Recipe - “Safe” Lemon-Lime Soda:

Here's a nice lemon-lime soda recipe courtesy of This drink not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but it’s nutritious too. It contains lemon and lime juices which are chock-full of antioxidants.


  • 1/4 cup mixture of fresh lemon and lime juice
  • 10 or 12 drops of liquid stevia extract
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 3 cups soda water (something fizzy and light)

Mix your lemon and lime juice, stevia drops, and salt in a pitcher. Add the bubbly water, stir gently, pour into tall glasses over ice and enjoy!


  1. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Feb;19(2):447-55.
  2. Available at the Pepsi Website, Accessed October 1, 2012.
  3. Exp Diabetes Res. 2012;2012:789174. Epub 2012 Jun 4.
  4. Urol Oncol. 2007 Mar;25(2):134-40.
  5. Curr Eye Res. 2006 Oct;31(10):875-83.
  6. Mol Cell Biol. 2006 Dec;26(24):9302-14.
  7. Carcinogenesis. 2006 May;27(5):962-71.
  8. Curr Pharm Des. 2007;13(7):671-86.
  9. J Surg Res. 1996 Jun;63(1):310-3.


eyeglasses said...

from now on i will stop drinking soft drinks. thank you for this information.

Donna from Green Tea Health Benefits said...

Soda is my favorite drink.Now Every time I want to drink it I will surely make a second thought.

Life Extension said...

eyeglasses- Our pleasure! We’re glad to help.

Life Extension said...

Donna from Green Tea Health Benefits – Sodas can be hard to resist. But, we’re glad you’re making an effort to resist them. ;-)

Stephen Knows Cancer said...

This is an interesting study, but I was wondering if they tested this with diet sodas as well. You mention the blood sugar spikes, and I think that this is a great point given that we consume a really high amount as is. However, these diet sodas use sugar substitutes, and I was wondering if any long-term studies have been conducted with them?

LifeExtension said...

Stephen Knows Cancer - The Singapore researchers examinied the intake of sweetened carbonated beverages and juices. They didn't mention diet sodas. Here's a link to the actual study:

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Caffeine-free Diet Pepsi is my only vice. I'm not giving it up EVER!

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - You might want to rethink that. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself, Is it worth dying for?

Unknown said...

Kombucha is a great alternative to soda!

Anonymous said...

Good clean fresh water is the best thing to drink. Carbonated water products have been linked to increased stroke risk. Most people do not drink enough water and walk around dehydrated and think they're hungry. Drink water and save your health and your budget. Skip high fructose corn syrup and all artificial sweeteners too.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - You can't go wrong with water! Thanks for chiming in. :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks Maylin for this blog. It’s a great message to everyone.

Life Extension said...

kevin morrison - Thank you for reading!

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