Original Article

Sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverage among cancer and non-cancer individuals: the NHANES study

Tung-Sung Tseng, Hui-Yi Lin, Lauren Griffiths, Kristin Cornwell, Melinda Sothern


Background: It has been estimated that there are approximately 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. One out of every six people over 65 is a cancer survivor. Recently growing evidence suggests a link between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and risk of pancreatic and endometrial cancer, and risk of colon cancer recurrence and mortality among cancer survivors. The objective of this study is to closely evaluate the impact of cancer status and other risk factors on sugar intake from SSBs.
Methods: A total of 22,182 adults aged ≥20 years old were analyzed using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2012 data. The primary outcome is high sugar intake (≥80 g) from SSBs per day. The association between sugar intake from SSB consumption and cancer status was evaluated using weighted logistic regression.
Results: Approximately 17% of non-cancer participants and 8% of cancer survivors had high sugar intake from SSBs. However, this cancer group difference was not significant after adjusting for other factors, especially age and gender. Individuals who had high sugar intake from SSB were younger, male (21.7%), Black (23.3%), had education level at high school (20.9%), low income (poverty income ratio ≤1, 23.4%), obese (17.1%), current smokers (26.9%) and non-cancer individuals (16.7%) or cervix cancer survivors (17.1%). After adjusting for demographic factors, a significant association between sugar intake from SSBs and cancer status was not observed except that prostate cancer survivors were less likely to intake sugar from SSBs compared to non-cancer individuals (OR =0.41, 95% CI: 0.22–0.77).
Conclusions: In general, cancer survivors consumed less sugars from SSBs compared to non-cancer individuals. However, this difference was primarily due to the differences in age distribution of the cancer and non-cancer groups (mean age, 62 and 45 years old, respectively). Individuals who were younger, male, Black, with lower education, with lower income, obese, and current smokers tended to have high sugar intake from SSBs. Custom intervention of decreasing sugar consumption from SSBs should be conducted for both non-cancer individuals and cancer survivors.

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