Drinking an excessive amount of soda that contains the sweetener high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is associated with colorectal (or bowel) cancer and obesity. And according to a study published in the journal Science on Friday, corn syrup may make bowel cancer tumors grow more rapidly.
The study authors found that mice genetically engineered to develop tumors grew larger, more substantial tumors when given the equivalent of one can of HFCS-sweetened soda a day. As the mice were already bred to grow tumors, researchers were not able to determine whether the mice grew additional tumors as the result of increased sugar intake.
The link between drinking too much sugary soda pop and health conditions such as obesity is fairly well documented, but less has been known about exactly how fructose may fuel cancer growth. With maybe the exception of water, drinking too much of anything is never a great idea, and various juices and soft drinks have been under scrutiny for what the ingredients can cause when consumed regularly, over a long period of time. For example, diet soda has been linked to an increased likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
Corn syrup has such a fraught reputation that the artificial sweetener has also been the subject of fierce debate among beverage companies and consumers recently, with MillerCoors now taking Anheuser-Busch InBev to court in a dispute that’s been dubbed “Corngate.” As may be obvious to any seasoned beer drinker, in brewing, corn syrup is used as a fermenting agent, not a sweetener that ends up in the final product.