A groundbreaking study conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School has found a shocking link between sugary sodas consumption and an increased risk of liver cancer in postmenopausal women. With growing concern about liver health, understanding the risk factors associated with this deadly disease is critical. A recent study provides us with important data that should make us reconsider our daily beverage choices.
In a large-scale study, researchers analyzed data from 98,786 American women between the ages of 50 and 79 who were originally enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, a program conducted from 1993 to 1998 at 40 U.S. clinical centers. By following these women through March 1, 2020, the researchers sought to examine the long-term effects of their beverage consumption.
The shocking results
The results of this study were quite alarming. Women who consumed one or more servings of sugar-sweetened sodas daily were 85% more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer than those who consumed such drinks less than once a week. In addition, those who consumed sodas daily were 68% more likely to have liver disease. However, it is important to note that the overall risk of death from the disease remains relatively low, with about 150 deaths recorded over the course of the study.
High sugar content
While it is widely known that high sugar content contributes to obesity, which is a known risk factor for cancer and liver disease, its detrimental effects go far beyond increased body weight. Regular consumption of high amounts of sugar can lead to the development of insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes, conditions closely associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Interestingly, the study also looked at the relationship between liver cancer and artificially sweetened beverages, given recent concerns about the potential carcinogenic properties of aspartame, a common artificial sweetener. Surprisingly, no significant correlation was found between liver cancer and consumption of artificially sweetened beverages.
Implications of the study
Dr. Pauline Emmett, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, shared her opinion on the implications of the study, “Although this study is observational and does not allow us to establish causality, we know from the body of evidence that it is worth thinking twice before drinking sugar-sweetened drinks every day.”
To better understand the findings, the study results were presented in “person-years,” which takes into account both the number of study participants and the length of time they have been involved in the study. The risk assessment found that women who consumed one or more glasses of sugary sodas daily had an incidence of liver cancer of 18 per 100,000 person-years, while those who consumed three or fewer such drinks per month had a lower rate of 10.3 per 100,000 person-years. Similarly, the death rate from chronic liver disease was 17.7 per 100,000 person-years for those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages daily, compared with 7.1 per 100,000 person-years for those who consumed them three or fewer times a month.
“Compared with consumption of three or fewer sugar-sweetened beverages per month, consumption of one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day was associated with a significantly higher incidence of liver cancer and death from chronic liver disease,” the study authors wrote.
In conclusion, this groundbreaking study is a wake-up call for all people, especially postmenopausal women, to reconsider their daily beverage choices. The risks associated with consuming high-sugar sodas cannot be ignored and liver health should be prioritized by choosing healthier alternatives.