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Sugary drinks have been associated with multiple negative health effects, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. A recent study shows that consumption of at least one sugary drink per day is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.
The study published by the American Society for Nutrition included more than 90,000 postmenopausal women. It was found that those who consumed at least a sugary drink a day had a 78 percent increased risk of developing liver cancer compared to people who ate fewer than three servings a month.
The Harvard Nutrition Source notes that sugar-sweetened beverages are those that contain added sugar or other sweeteners. This includes sodas, colas, tonics, fruit punch, lemonade and other soft drinks, powdered sweetened beverages, as well as sports and energy drinks.
A can of soda contains the equivalent amount of 7-10 teaspoons of sugar (there are 4.2 grams of sugar in a single teaspoon). Energy drinks have as much sugar as soft drinks, other drinks like sweet tea also have high amounts of sugar.
“Our findings suggest that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is a possible modifiable risk factor for liver cancer.”said Longgang Zhao, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Carolina, one of the lead authors of the study along with Xuehong Zhang, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Zhao points out that if the research findings are confirmed, reducing consumption of sugary drinks could serve as a public health strategy to reduce the burden of liver cancer. “Replacing sugary drinks with water and unsweetened coffee or tea could significantly reduce the risk of liver cancer.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, about 25,000 men and 11,000 women get liver cancer each yearand about 19,000 men and 9,000 women die from the disease.
Some habits or conditions that can increase the risk of liver cancer are: being overweight or obese, smoking; drink alcohol; and eating foods containing aflatoxin (a fungus that can grow on foods, such as grains and nuts, that have not been stored properly).
There are also diseases that can increase the risk of this type of cancer, such as having a long-term infection with the hepatitis B virus or the hepatitis C virus, cirrhosis, hemochromatosis, diabetes, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
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