New York, July 20 : People who drank diet soda after being treated for colon cancer are less likely to see a recurrence than those who didnt drink artificially-sweetened drinks, claims a Yale University study.
To reach this conclusion, researchers analysed 1,018 colon cancer patients.
Those who drank one or more 12-ounce artificially-sweetened drink a day saw a 46 per cent improvement in risk of cancer recurrence or death compared to those who didn't drink such beverages, said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The "soft drinks" were defined as caffeinated colas, caffeine-free colas and other carbonated beverages (such as diet ginger ale).
"Artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of purported health risks that have never really been documented," said Charles S.
Fuchs from the Yale University in Connecticut.
"Our study clearly shows they help avoid cancer recurrence and death in patients who have been treated for advanced colon cancer and that is an exciting finding," Fuchs added.
The research follows similar findings that showed that drinking coffee and eating tree nuts also may have a protective effect, Fuchs noted.
While various studies have suggested that poor dietary habits, such as high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, may increase risk of colon cancer recurrence and patient mortality, "for colon cancer patients who have trouble abstaining from sweet beverages, choosing artificially sweetened options over sugar-sweetened beverages may allow them to avoid those health ramifications", the researchers explained.
Risk factors for colon cancer include obesity and poor diet.
"Concerns that artificial sweeteners may increase the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cancer have been raised, but studies on issues such as weight gain and diabetes have been very mixed, and, regarding cancer, epidemiologic studies in humans have not demonstrated such relationships," the study explained.
According to Fuchs, "in terms of colon cancer recurrence and survival, use of artificially-sweetened drinks is not a health risk, but is a healthier choice".