Sugary snacks increase the risk of bowel cancer, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. It is the first study of its kind to find a positive link between bowel cancer and high sugar and fat diets, the researchers told Medical News Today.

Work from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has found that the consumption of sodas, cakes, biscuits, snacks and desserts is linked to an increased risk in colorectal cancer (bowel cancer).

Conducted last year using data from the Scottish Colorectal Cancer Study, the study included 2,063 patients suffering from bowel cancer and 2,776 controls from Scotland.

The study builds on previous research analyzing links between diet and bowel cancer, which identified two distinct eating patterns. One was a diet high in healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables, and the other diet was high in meat, fat and sugar.

The research team analyzed over 170 foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, as well as chocolate, nuts, crisps and fruit drinks.

They also looked at links between some established risks of bowel cancer, such as family history of cancer, physical activity and smoking.

Results revealed that the healthy diet was associated with a decreased risk of bowel cancer, while the high fat and sugar diet is associated with an increased risk.

Dr. Evropi Theodoratou, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, told Medical News Today:

"Some of the main predictors of colorectal cancer include family history of that cancer as well as underlying genetic risk factors.

However, according to a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research (Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer) diet has also a very important role in colorectal cancer.

Previous research has linked the development of the disease with high consumption of processed meat, but this is the first time that a link with high energy snacks and drinks has been observed.

These findings are very interesting and important for public health, but they do not show a causal relationship and need to be replicated in larger future studies."

In addition to Dr. Theodoratou's research and his comment about previous findings on foods that are bad for bowel cancer risk, other research has suggested foods that are good for bowel cancer risk. According to Cancer Research UK, a study called the European Investigation into Cancer (EPIC), revealed that people who consumed a large amount of fibre in their diet had a 25-40% reduced risk of developing bowel cancer.

The EPIC research also suggests that people who eat an 80g portion of fish each day reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer by a third.

The present research paper from Edinburgh says bowel cancer accounts for 9.7% of all cancer cases and 8% of all cancer-related deaths.