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A new study done in India links the increase in soft drink consumption to the increase in the occurrence of esophageal cancer, a usually fatal disease. According to the research, during the last half-century, as consumption of carbonated drinks has increased 450 percent, the incidence rates of esophageal cancer have risen by more than 570 percent in white American men alone.

The American Cancer Society says that esophageal cancer affected 13,900 U.S. men and women in 2003, more than 10,000 of them being men.

However, it isn’t just frequency that seems to link the two. There’s also chemistry - carbonated soft drinks cause the stomach to distend, which in turn causes the gastric reflux associated with esophageal cancer.

The research is being presented at a meeting in New Orleans that is focusing on the linkage between what people eat and drink and the occurrence of a wide range of cancers.
KC's View:
Clearly, the general discussion about how the things we consume can lead to cancers needs to take place – not in an atmosphere of alarmist hysteria, but thoughtfully and carefully with a firm basis in science.

The problem is that there are so many studies and so much speculation that it becomes tough to separate the legitimate stories from the nonsense.

Just yesterday, we got an email from someone we barely know forwarding a long “news” story saying that people shouldn’t freeze water bottles because the process causes a chemical reaction to take place in the plastic that causes cancer. Now, much of the time we’ll just delete these emails and move on…but we were curious, so we Googled the subject…and found that this is an urban legend based on highly questionable science. It wasn’t even really a news story, just speculation crafted to look like one.

We did what we probably should do more often – shot a letter back to the person who sent it to us, asking that she take us off her email list and maybe start checking the veracity of these stories before she circulates them. (She wasn’t amused.)

But it points out how tough it is to figure out what is real and what isn’t.