Limit sugar-sweetened drinks

Avoid sugary drinks graphicLimit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks.

We often don’t think about drinks containing calories. However, there is strong evidence that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened drinks can cause weight gain which in turn can cause many cancers.

> Read our Q&A on aspartame and its cancer risk

Choose alternatives to sugar-sweetened drinks

Three simple alternatives to fizzy or sugary drinks that will help to reduce your cancer risk.

1. Water

  • Water is the best choice – try to drink water more often than other drinks.
  • You could try sparkling mineral water with a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber.

2. Tea or coffee

  • Tea or coffee without added sugar, are good options.
  • Instead of sweet, frozen coffee drinks, try an iced Americano with a splash of milk.
  • Rather than hot chocolate, mochas and coffees flavoured with syrups, opt for ‘skinny’ versions of milky hot drinks, such as cappuccinos (without chocolate), Americanos or tea to cut the calories and sugar.

3. Fruit juice

Natural fruit juice is a source of healthy nutrients but also contains a lot of sugar and has lost most of the fibre you would get by eating the whole fruit, so it is best not to drink more than one glass (150ml) a day.

  • Instead of a large glass of fruit juice, pour a small portion and dilute the juice with sparkling mineral water.

What about artificially-sweetened diet drinks?

Diet drinks are an alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks too. There’s no strong evidence in humans to suggest that low-calorie, artificially-sweetened drinks, such as diet soft drinks, are a cause of cancer.

However, the evidence that these types of drinks help prevent weight gain, being overweight and obese is not consistent. Artificially-sweetened soft drinks are also often quite acidic which is bad for our teeth, so it’s best not to drink them regularly or in large quantities.