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Drink a Soda or Smoke A Cigarette? There’s No Difference
A leading cancer lobbying and health group in the US is demanding that US health officials perform a new study to show how consumers are negatively affected by beverages laden with sugar, including soda. According to this group, sugary beverages are a major cause of the public health epidemic of obesity in the US.
A nonprofit part of the American Cancer Society delivered a letter to DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week that stated a study should be done on the dangers of sugary beverages, similar to the groundbreaking 1964 surgeon general report on tobacco, which was a landmark in warning consumers about the grave dangers of smoking.
The group stated in the letter that a new comprehensive and unbiased report could have a serious effect on the consciousness of the public and start to change the public’s mind about what they should be drinking and eating. To this group, there is little difference between the harm that can come from smoking a cigarette and drinking sugared soda.
The letter stated that we know this is a link between too much consumption of sugary beverages and obesity. The serious health effects of this can be serious in children as they grow up. They can start to become overweight in childhood and this can carry over to serious obesity in adulthood.
The ACS letter also noted that there is consensus that there is a public health problem surrounding obesity and what causes it, but the country still lacks a national plan of action that is articulate and based upon the latest science.
Sugared sodas began to pop up in the headlines in recent months as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg went to war against regular soda in his city. Under his leadership, the public health board in New York recently approved a ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in many types of New York City businesses.
The president of ACS, Christopher Hansen, noted that there is a possible link between cancer and obesity. It has been determined in studies that sugar adds to our caloric intake but does not provide any nutrients that can cut a risk of cancer.
[According to a US based study in the journal Cancer Research headed up by Anthony Heaney, M.D.,Ph.D. at UCLA, Cancer cells slurp up fructose.]
The group is pushing this effort against sugared sodas because the top public health problem in the US is obesity, and it is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US, after smoking.
Also, the letter to Sibelius stated that at least ⅓ of the 570,000 cancer deaths each year in the US can be linked to eating and drinking habits.
While it is not known if DHHS will take any action as outlined by ACS, it is a positive step that the problem of obesity and sugary sodas are being highlighted in this way.