We conducted a scoping review of sweet beverages (SB) and cancer outcomes to ascertain SB's relationship with cancer by SB type and cancer type. We used the PRISMA Scoping Review Guidelines to review quantitative studies of SB and cancer. Eligible studies included articles reporting a quantitative association between SB intake and a cancer-related health outcome in humans, including adiposity-related versus non–adiposity-related cancers. Studies included analyses not confounded by artificial sweeteners. SB was defined as beverages with added sugars, 100% fruit juices, or fruit drinks that were not 100% fruit juice. We used a data-charting form to extract study characteristics and results.
A total of 38 were included. The sample consisted predominately of adults from European countries outside of the United States or predominately White samples in the United States. Across all conceptualizations of SB, a greater proportion of studies examining carbonated drinks reported SB's relationship with poorer cancer outcomes, which was exacerbated in adiposity-related cancers.
The composition of different types of SB (e.g., high fructose corn syrup, natural fructose) as they relate to cancer is important. Studies including more diverse populations that bear a disproportionate burden of both SB intake and cancer are needed.
Different sugars in SB may impact cancer differently. Compared with SB made with other types of sugar, drinks made with man-made fructose (carbonated drinks) had poorer cancer outcomes, especially in cancers impacted by obesity. Understanding how different SB affect cancer would help us target which SB to avoid.