You slather on sunscreen with high SPF, don a floppy sunhat and shield your eyes with shades – all great defenses against skin cancer, especially in the sunny summer months. But despite your best efforts to avoid harmful cancer-causing UV rays, chances are you are still overlooking one major cause of many kinds of cancer: your fruity, sugary summertime cocktail.

“Perhaps just as common at pool parties as swimsuits themselves, summer cocktails like daiquiris and margaritas are high in sugar and alcohol, two of cancerous tumors’ favorite cohorts,” said Dr. Coral Quiet of Arizona Center for Cancer Care.

We unknowingly consume a lot of sugar through beverages. According to a recent study, if you include sodas and sports drinks along with mixed cocktails, drinks make up 20 percent of our sugar intake. And sure, we all know sugar can lead to weight gain and diabetes, but not many people know it can actually feed certain types of cancerous tumors.

“An estimate one third of cancerous tumors have insulin receptors – including breast and colon cancers,” says Dr. Quiet. “These receptors pull sugar in from the bloodstream, which not only feeds the tumor, but prevents muscles and other organs from getting the insulin they need.”

According to Dr. Quiet, while often overlooked, sugar – especially the kind in alcohol – is a leading cause of cancer in the United States. A leading reason why – we often don’t realize how much we are indulging in.

For example, one margarita (and you know you have more than one!) made with store-bought mix has more than 24 grams of sugar. A strawberry daiquiri can have upwards of 35 grams. To put that in perspective, according to the American Heart Institute, folks should only have the following added sugars in their diets, meaning above and beyond natural sugars like fruits:

  • Recommended Daily Sugar Intake for Men: 36 grams or 9 teaspoons
  • Recommended Daily Sugar Intake for Women: 20 grams or 5 teaspoons
  • Recommended Daily Sugar Intake for Children: 12 grams or 3 teaspoons

But that’s only half of a cancer cocktail. Alcohol comes with its own risks. Just like with sugar, there are obvious pitfalls to consuming alcohol – weight, memory and long-term risk of disease.168718391

But the fact is, alcohol is a carcinogen, meaning there is sufficient evidence to show its connection to cancer.

“In the United States, alcohol may play a role in more than 20,000 cancer deaths each year and has been linked to breast, esophagus, colorectal, liver, stomach and ovarian cancers,” says Dr. Quiet.

Luckily, cancerous tumors develop and grow over extended lengths of time, so it’s okay to sneak a fruity, frilly cocktail once in a while, just be careful not to over indulge. Also, be sure to have regular check-ups for cancers with your physicians. The earlier tumors are detected, the greater the chance of survival.

For more information please, visit the Arizona Center for Cancer Care.