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Women who consume sugary beverages daily may have higher risk of liver cancer

Risk of dying from chronic liver disease was also higher


CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 20, 2023 – An analysis of data from a large observational study involving 98,000 postmenopausal women found that women who consumed one or more sugar-sweetened beverages daily had an 85 percent higher risk of liver cancer and a 68 percent higher risk of dying of chronic liver disease compared to those who consume fewer than three sugary drinks per month.


The researchers led by Longgang Zhao, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston said the study was the first to look at this particular association between liver disease and sweetened drinks. The results were published in the Aug. 8, 2023 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).


“To our knowledge, this is the first study to report an association between sugar sweetened beverage intake and chronic liver disease mortality,” said first author Zhao, in a press release. “Our findings, if confirmed, may pave the way to a public health strategy to reduce risk of liver disease based on data from a large and geographically diverse cohort.”


The analysis was done from data gathered by the large, long-running Women’s Health Initiative. Participants reported their usual soft drink, and fruit drink (excluding fruit juice) consumption and then reported artificially sweetened beverage consumption after three years. The women were followed for a median of over 20 years.


The researchers then examined the cancer incidence and deaths due to chronic liver diseases such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, or chronic hepatitis and verified the data against the National Death Index. They found that 6.8 percent of women reported consuming one or more sugary drinks daily. Among those participants there was an 85 percent higher risk of liver cancer and a 68 percent higher risk of dying of liver disease.


Because this was an observational study, it cannot be concluded that sugary drinks cause cancer or liver disease. Additional studies are needed to test the question of whether higher consumption of sugary drinks is directly linked to liver diseases including cancer.


Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital press release

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