Regular intake of soft drinks may cause liver disease
DRINKING just two cans of fizzy drink a day raises your risk of liver disease, according to a study.
Scientists found people who drink more than one sugar-sweetened drink such as cola or lemonade a day were more likely to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than those who said they didn’t drink any fizzy drinks.
And they warned that sugary drinks could also be linked to diabetes and heart disease.
However, they found low-sugar diet versions do not seem to have the same damaging effects.
The team from Tufts University studied 2,634 middle aged men and women who had to say how many caffeinated or sugary drinks such as cola, fruit punch, lemonade or other non-carbonated fruit drinks they consumed daily.
The participants underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan to measure the amount of fat in the liver and some were identified as having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Researchers from the from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing at the university noticed a higher prevalence of NAFLD among people who reported drinking more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per day compared to people who said they drank no sugar-sweetened beverages.
But researchers found that diet versions do not seem to have the same effect.
The study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, revealed the link stood even after the authors accounted for age, sex, body mass index and dietary and lifestyle factors such as calorie intake, alcohol, and smoking.
In contrast, after accounting for these factors the authors found no association between diet cola and NAFLD.
NAFLD is characterised by an accumulation of fat in the liver cells that is unrelated to alcohol consumption and and many with the disease don’t experience any symptoms.
Being obese or overweight increases the risk for NAFLD and people with NAFLD are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major dietary source of fructose, the sugar that is suspected of increasing risk of NAFLD because of how our bodies process it.
Study author Dr. Jiantao Ma, said: ‘Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to NAFLD and other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Few observational studies, to date, have examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and NAFLD.
“Long-term prospective studies are needed to help ascertain the potential role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of NAFLD.”
Co-author of the study Dr. Nicola McKeown added: “The cross-sectional nature of this study prevents us from establishing causality.
“Future prospective studies are needed to account for the changes in beverage consumption over time as soda consumers may switch to diet soda and these changes may be related to weight status.
“Although there is much more research to be done, sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of empty calories, and people need to be mindful of how much they are drinking, perhaps by reserving this habit for special occasions.”