The ten-year study looked at the eating habits of 60,000 women
Snacking regularly on biscuits, buns or cakes can significantly increase a woman’s chances of developing womb cancer, a study shows.
Women who gave themselves such a treat two to three times a week were 33 per cent more likely to suffer the disease than those who rarely raided the biscuit tin.
Among those indulging more than three times a week, the risk of falling ill with a tumour jumped by 42 per cent.
However, their overall chances were still low as the odds of the average woman in the study developing the disease during the 18-plus years of the research were just over 1 per cent.
The researchers described the size of the effect as ‘modest’ but said it warranted further investigation.
British cancer experts emphasised that it is too early to draw any firm conclusions.
To look for a link between sugary foods and womb cancer, the Swedish scientists studied data from thousands of women who, between 1987 and 1990, had answered dozens of questions on diet, lifestyle, weight and general health. Ten years later, those still alive answered an even more extensive battery of questions on their eating habits.
In 2008, the researchers matched up the women’s answers with their medical records, specifically looking for diagnoses of endometrial cancer – the most common form of womb cancer. They found 729 cases out of the 61,226 women studied.
There was little or no increase in risk from eating certain high-sugar items such as sweets, soft drinks, jam or marmalade.
But women who snacked frequently on  cakes, buns or biscuits were up to 42 per cent more likely to get cancer than those who had them once a fortnight or less.
It isn’t clear why some sweet treats were linked to the cancer but others were not.
The study looked at how often volunteers ate such treats but not specifically how much. However, those exceeding a total intake of more than 35 grams of sugar a day – equivalent to about seven teaspoons – faced a 36 per cent increase in tumour risk.
The scientists, from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, say there are several ways that sweet snacks could push up the risk of the disease. One is that sugar overload makes the body release more insulin, which can stimulate the excessive growth of cells in the endometrium, the lining of the womb.
Another is that it boosts levels of the hormone oestrogen, which has been shown to trigger the uncontrolled growth of cells, a key characteristic of cancer.
Their findings were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
Yinka Ebo, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said keeping a healthy weight and staying physically active were the best ways to reduce womb cancer risk.
She added: ‘This study shows eating lots of sugar and certain sugary foods may increase the risk of womb cancer, but we would need to see these results repeated in other large studies like this before we can draw any firm conclusions.’
Endometrial cancer affects around 6,400 women a year in the UK and kills an estimated 1,000 annually.
Risk goes up with age, weight and with having a mother who had the disease. However, having children appears to lower the risk.

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