Are you someone who drinks sweetened beverages on a daily basis? It’s important to be aware that this habit could potentially increase your risk of developing chronic liver disease or liver cancer.
It’s common knowledge that consuming sugary drinks can contribute to obesity and insulin resistance. However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has shed light on further negative health effects associated with sweetened drinks, particularly in regards to liver disease.
According to the study, individuals who consume sweetened beverages on a regular basis face a shocking 85% higher likelihood of developing liver cancer and a 68% higher risk of mortality from chronic liver disease than those who consume less sweetened drinks.
Risks of Liver Cancer and Liver Disease
A group of researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study using data from the Women’s Health Initiative clinical database in the United States. The database collected information from more than 160,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79, and the study concluded in 2020 after a follow-up period.
“Epidemiological studies on dietary factors and liver cancer and chronic liver disease mortality are limited,” the researchers emphasized in the report.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to report an association between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and chronic liver disease mortality.”
It’s important to be aware of the impact that our beverage choices can have on our health. A recent study looked at the consumption of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks, excluding fruit juices.
The participants were divided into three groups based on their intake: those who consumed three servings or less per month, those who drank one to six servings per week, and those who drank one or more servings per day (with one serving equivalent to 12 ounces or 355 milliliters, roughly the size of a standard beverage can).
The study found that women who consumed one or more servings of sweetened drinks daily had an 85 percent higher risk of developing liver cancer compared to those who consumed three servings or less per month.
Additionally, their mortality rate due to chronic liver disease was found to be 68 percent higher. It’s important to make mindful choices about our beverage consumption, and consider the potential impact on our long-term health.
In this particular research, the term “chronic liver disease” pertains to health conditions such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, liver fibrosis and chronic hepatitis.
The study took into account several potential factors that could impact liver disease, including age, ethnicity, education level, smoking and drinking habits, and body mass index when calculating the results.
Liver cancer is influenced by several known risk factors such as hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) infections, metabolic disorders, excessive alcohol consumption, and the consumption of foods contaminated with aflatoxins, such as peanuts and corn.
“However, approximately 40% of patients with liver cancer do not have these risk factors. … Therefore, it is important to identify dietary risk factors for liver cancer and chronic liver disease mortality,” the researchers stated in the report.
Other studies have also corroborated the damaging effects of sweetened drinks on the liver.
According to a study conducted in Europe, people who drink more than six servings of soft drinks per week have an 83 percent higher chance of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common form of liver cancer, compared to those who consume less than one serving.
Additionally, the risk increases by 6 percent for every additional serving consumed per week. Another study in the United States showed that drinking soda with added sugar is linked to an 18 percent increased risk of liver cancer.