Senior author Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota points out that people who consume carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages tend to have a poor behavioral profile overall, but the effect of these drinks on pancreatic cancer may be unique.
"The high levels of sugar in soft drinks may be increasing the level of insulin in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth," Pereira says in a statement.
Pereira and colleagues tracked 60,524 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. During the 14-year study period, there were 140 pancreatic cancer cases.
The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found those who consumed two or more soft drinks per week -- averaging five per week -- had an 87 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared with individuals who did not.
However, there was no similar association between fruit juice consumption and pancreatic cancer.
"Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent healthcare. Favorite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should apply to other western countries," Pereira says.