Snacking on sweet treats such as biscuits, cakes and fizzy juice has been linked to bowel cancer in a new study.
The research is the first of its kind to reveal a positive connection between the disease and a diet high in sugar and fat.
A team from Edinburgh University looked at risk factors including levels of physical activity, smoking and what we eat.
Scientists examined more than 170 foods including fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, as well as high-energy snack foods such as chocolate, nuts, crisps and fruit drinks including fruit squash.
They reported links with some established risk factors of colorectal cancer - a family history of cancer, low exercise and tobacco. The team also identified new factors including high intake of high-energy snacks and sugar-sweetened drinks.
The study, published in the latest edition of the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, builds on previous research into the link between bowel cancer and diet.
Dr Evropi Theodoratou from Edinburgh University’s School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, said: “What we have found is very interesting and it merits further investigation using large population studies.
“While the positive associations between a diet high in sugar and fat and colorectal cancer do not automatically imply ‘cause and effect’, it is important to take on board what we’ve found - especially as people in industrialised countries are consuming more of these foods.”
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, the Scottish government’s Chief Scientist Office and Cancer Research UK.
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