Soda may have a bad rap, but evidence suggests that the sugary drink might also be the inspiration for one of society's next big medical breakthroughs. In fact, researchers at the University of Oxford and Ulster University in the U.K. are defying expectations by suggesting that the newest cancer treatment might come in the form of this unhealthy beverage.

According to “Vice,” researchers at the two institutions are investigating whether drinks filled with oxygen bubbles, similar to the carbon dioxide bubbles in soda, could make tumors more susceptible to treatment. A recent “Cancer Research” press release explained the reasoning behind the seemingly bizarre treatment, stating, “some [tumors] have learnt to adapt to harsher, low-oxygen conditions, making them more resistant to drugs … meaning chemotherapy fails to penetrate the heart of the [tumor].” Theoretically, the oxygen bubbles in the new drink would help to re-oxygenate tumors and allow treatments such as “radiotherapy and chemotherapy to deliver a knock-out blow.”

As novel as the concept sounds, however, doctors have seen effective results from re-oxygenating tumors in the past. Unfortunately, current methods of delivering oxygen to tumors, such as breathing pure oxygen or injecting oxygen into the tumor itself, can have harmful side effects. Researchers hope that a drink filled with oxygen bubbles could have similar results to these existing methods, while doing less extraneous harm to patients.

The drink is currently being developed specifically for pancreatic cancer, as pancreatic tumors are especially oxygen deprived and the disease is notoriously difficult to treat. Furthermore, the research thus far has been confined to lab mice, so it is difficult to speculate as to its effectiveness in human patients. However, according to Dr. Aine McCarthy, Cancer Research UK’s communications officer, “Ideally, when you develop any treatment of this type, you hope that it will be able to be used for other types of cancers. This drink could help other types of cancer, but it’s hard to say for sure at this stage as it hasn’t gone through any clinical trials with humans.”

Nevertheless, we suggest you drink a glass of your favorite soda in a toast to the hope of a cancer-free future. 

Source: Vice / Photo credit: Women's Health