New report links sugary drinks to cancer

ABC News' Chief Health Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton cautions against beverages with added sugar, which, in excess, can lead to weight gain and obesity and an increased risks of various cancers.
2:49 | 07/13/19

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Transcript for New report links sugary drinks to cancer
In today's weekend download, how healthy is that glass of fruit juice you drink in the morning in sugary drinks being linked to cancer is the focus of a new study, and joining us to talk about it is Dr. Jen Ashton. Dr. Ashton, thanks so much for joining us as always. Hi, whit. I want to ask you first. What are the key takeaways here from this new study? Let me tell you the headline first of all. It appeared in a reputable journal, the British medical journal. It looked at over 100,000 people, and followed them over five years, associated by survey, and found there was an 18% higher rate of overall cancer among people who drank any sugary beverage. Let me give you the story behind the headline. This is a perfect example of a study based on association, not cause and effect. The methodology here was based on participants' surveys, so remembering what they drank, which has some issues in terms of its validity, and this finding, this association, is kind of like saying, well, if you are wearing a yellow shirt, you have an increased chance that you may be breathing. So you have to make this with not just a chunk of salt, but a chunk of sugar. Got it, but the big question people ask, does this mean we should ditch that morning glass of juice altogether? Absolutely not. Let's take this back to biochemistry. Our cells run on glucose. The issue as you probably know is that we as a society are getting too much added sugar, and that is contributing to weight gain and obesity which absolutely are linked to cancer, but if someone's going to hand me a glass of fresh Orange juice, I'm going to accept it. You just have to realize when you talk about these added sugars in a lot of sweet beverages, for the most part, we call them very calorie-dense, nutrient poor, and that's not ideal. So that added sugar is the key there. The American beverage association says that it's -- this is a quote here. It's important for people to know that all beverages either with sugar or without are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet. What are your thoughts on that assessment? So whit, you know that I have a degree if nutrition also, and I think balance is important. Everything in moderation is important, but the take home point for people, read those labels. The maximum amount of added sugar for teenagers and women is 25 grams a day. For men, it's 36 grams a day. If you turn things around, you could get almost 20 grams in that Greek yogurt you're having, and we're getting way too much. So yes, in moderation, but yes we also need to watch the added sugar. Moderation. Dr. Ashton, always great to see you. Thanks so much for this important information. We appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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