Adding to the numerous heart complications a person risks when maintaining a high-sugar diet, scientists have now drawn a link between sugary snacks and bowel cancer.

Researchers at Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities looked at the diets of 2,000 Scottish bowel cancer patients and compared them to the diets of healthier populations. In addition to the expected links to colorectal cancer, such as family history, physical activity, and smoking, the scientists discovered high sugar consumption was also a prevailing link.

Using data from the Scottish Colorectal Cancer Study, the researchers said their study was the first to find such a link.

They examined more than 170 foods, including fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat, as well as high-energy snack foods like chocolates, nuts, and crisps, and fruit drinks including fruit squash, according to the BBC.

The study, which was published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, builds upon preexisting research into the link between bowel cancer and diet.

"What we have found is very interesting and it merits further investigation using large population studies," said Dr. Evropi Theodoratou, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences.

Previous studies have separated people's diets into two main groups. One group maintained a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritive components. The other group — labeled the "western" group — kept a steady diet of meats, fats, and sugar.

The western diet was found to have greater instances of colorectal cancer than the healthy diet group.

Part of the researchers' explanation of this outcome concerns industrialized countries' decreasing reliance on natural foods. Fruits and vegetables are no longer a necessity in many westernized countries, whose agribusiness industry permits free range of food options year round. In less economically developed countries, people must seek out their food. This means extracting fruits and vegetables, and killing the occasional wild animal, and preparing it themselves.

"While the positive associations between a diet high in sugar and fat and colorectal cancer do not automatically imply 'cause and effect,'" wrote Theodoratou, "it is important to take on board what we've found - especially as people in industrialized countries are consuming more of these foods."