ADC Reviews

Sugar Intake Linked To Increased Risk Of Liver Cancer

Sugar intake

Association Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake and Liver Cancer Risk in the Women's Health Initiative.


A study in the European Prospective Project on Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) showed that for every 50 g of sugar per day, the risk of liver cancer increased by 43% (HR=1.43, 95%CI 1.17-1.74).
As one of the sources of daily sugar intake, soft drinks contain an average of 55-130 grams of sugar per liter. Will excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages also increase the risk of liver cancer?

Recently, scientists from the University of South Carolina, Harvard University and other research institutions shared their latest research results at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Academy of Nutrition, proving that drinking more than one can of sugar-sweetened beverages (355ml, canned Coke 330ml) per day Women have a 78% increased risk of liver cancer compared to women who drink no more than 3 cans of sugar-sweetened beverages per month! It seems that the use of “sweet burden” to describe sugar-sweetened beverages is still too mild. Drinking beverages will not only make you fat, but also increase the risk of cancer. It should be called “sweet killer”. The study was published in Current Developments in Nutrition.

Research data comes from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), one of the largest women’s health programs ever in the United States, recruiting more than 160,000 women across 40 clinical centers for clinical trials, community-based prevention Research, as well as observational studies, dedicated to making scientific contributions to women’s health.

The subjects were 90,504 women aged 50-79, with an average follow-up period of 18.7 years. Through questionnaires, their disease history and health habits, including sugar-sweetened beverage intake, were known.

Among them, 7.3% of the participants ingested “one serving” of sugar-sweetened beverages of more than 355ml per day (which can be simply analogized to a can of beverages). The “sweetened beverages” here include soft drinks and fruit drinks.

During the follow-up period, a total of 205 women were diagnosed with liver cancer, and women who consumed more than 1 sugar-sweetened beverage per day had a 78% increased risk of liver cancer compared with women who rarely consumed beverages (<3 drinks/month). (HR=1.78, 95%CI=1.09-2.95, P=0.007).

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with an increased risk of liver cancer even after adjusting for coffee/tea intake, history of liver disease, or excluding participants with liver cancer diagnosed and diabetes in the first two years of follow-up .

To talk about why sugar-sweetened beverages increase the risk of liver cancer, on the one hand, the reason may be that excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages can easily lead to obesity, type II diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which are all risk factors for liver cancer.

On the other hand, excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages may cause insulin resistance, which is accompanied by an increase in insulin levels in the blood. Insulin has a mitogenic effect and increases the possibility of cancerous cells.

Since sugar-sweetened beverages are no good, is it healthy to choose sugar-free beverages with artificial sweeteners?

Excessive consumption of carbonated beverages containing artificial sweeteners was associated with a 28% increased risk of liver cancer in a meta-analysis study published in 2021. From this point of view, not drinking beverages is the best choice for health.