A University of Minnesota study suggests people who drink at least two bottles of pop per week are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
Jill Manske, St. Thomas biology professor, has been following the study and said high fructose corn syrup, found in regular pop, is the main ingredient to blame.
“When you get a real simple sugar like high fructose corn syrup, it causes the pancreas to increase insulin secretion really fast, so you get this up regulation of insulin. It goes way up, then it crashes,” Manske said.
Manske said the crashes can be bad for the pancreas and may lead to cancer. The study followed more than 60,000 people in Singapore over a 14-year period, but Manske believes the people studied may have had other health risks that could produce the same effect.
“They may have been more likely to smoke, or they might be more likely to eat red meat, so there are other factors that they weren’t able to tease out,” she said.
Manske said she believes there may be a correlation, but doesn’t see strong enough evidence to consider it the causative agent. She said there is only a small risk of developing the life threatening disease, citing that only 142 people developed the cancer out of a possible 60,000.
“When we read that kind of press, and everybody goes, ‘Oh my gosh, it doubles my risk,'” Manske said. “We need to look back and think what the risk was in the first place, and what other factors might be involved.”
Junior Amy Toskey drinks about one or two bottles of pop each day, but said this study won’t change her habit.
“We’ve kind of already known that pop isn’t good for you, the acid isn’t good for your teeth, it’s not good for your stomach,” Toskey said. “We all kind of drink it anyway so I mean it scares me a little bit, but I don’t think it’s going to deter me too much.”
Although she is not likely to cut back on pop, she has noticed other recent alternatives such as the new Pepsi Throwback soda.
“It doesn’t have the corn syrup, it has actual sugar in it, which I think makes it taste better,” Toskey said.
Pop will always be a favorite drink for students, but Manske said moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
“Pop I think is the number one contributor of sugar in a diet of most Americans, so is it something nutritious and healthy … No,” Manske said. “But I don’t think this study in and of itself is enough to worry anybody into you know, not drinking pop anymore.”
Michael Ewen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.