December 2, 2023

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Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages may help lower risk of liver cancer

Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages may help lower risk of liver cancer


Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages may help lower risk of liver cancer.

According to a study of more than 90,000 postmenopausal women, those who regularly drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage had a 78 percent higher chance of developing liver cancer than those who drank less than three of these beverages per month.

“Our findings suggest that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is a potentially modifiable risk factor for liver cancer,” said University of South Carolina doctoral student Longgang Zhao, lead author of the study.

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may be a public health strategy to reduce the burden of liver cancer. Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water and unsweetened coffee or tea can significantly reduce liver cancer risk.”


Sugary beverages can cause many diseases



Zhao presented the research results at NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE, the flagship annual meeting of the American Academy of Nutrition, June 14-16.

Zhao co-authored the study with Xuehong Zhang, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


In the United States, the incidence of liver cancer has increased significantly over the past three decades.

While most patients had risk factors such as chronic hepatitis infection, alcohol use, and diabetes, about 40% of liver cancer cases could not be explained by established risk factors.

The purpose of the study was to determine whether certain soft drinks might also be involved.


Regular consumption of beverages with added sugars such as fruit drinks and sodas has been linked to several health problems.

Although the use of sugar-sweetened beverages has declined over the years, it is still very common; more than two-thirds of white adults in the United States reported consuming at least some of these beverages on any given day in 2017-2018.


The current study evaluated data from 90,504 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study that began in the early 1990s.

In the mid-1990s, participants filled out baseline questionnaires and followed them for a median of 18 years.

The researchers used a validated food frequency questionnaire to measure sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and medical records to confirm a diagnosis of liver cancer.


About 7 percent of the participants reported drinking one or more 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverages per day, and a total of 205 women developed liver cancer.

Women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day were 78% more likely to develop liver cancer compared to women who never drank these beverages or who drank less than three servings per month, and women who drank at least one soft drink per day 73% more likely to develop liver cancer.


While more research is needed to determine the factors and mechanisms behind this link, the researchers say more sugar-sweetened beverage consumption may increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for liver cancer.

These drinks can also lead to insulin resistance and fat buildup in the liver, both of which can affect liver health.


“Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is a putative risk factor for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and may lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, which are closely related to the development of liver cancer,” Zhao noted.


The researchers caution that the study was observational and was not designed to determine whether sugar-sweetened beverages actually cause liver cancer or whether consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is an indicator of other lifestyle factors that contribute to liver cancer.

Additionally, because the study focused on postmenopausal women, studies covering both men and young women are needed to examine these associations more fully.






Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages may help lower risk of liver cancer

(source:internet, reference only)

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