Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Daily: Liver Disease

Approximately 65% of adults in the United States consume sugar sweetened beverages daily. 

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, led one of the first studies to look at the association between intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and incidence of liver cancer and chronic liver disease mortality. Results are published in JAMA.

This observational study included nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women from the large, prospective Women’s Health Initiative study. Participants reported their usual soft drink, fruit drink (not including fruit juice) consumption, and then reported artificially sweetened beverage consumption after three years. 

Participants were followed for a median of more than 20 years. Researchers looked at self-reported liver cancer incidence and death due to chronic liver disease such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, or chronic hepatitis, which were further verified by medical records or the National Death Index.

A total of 98,786 postmenopausal women were included in the final analyses. The 6.8 percent of women who consumed one or more sugar-sweetened beverages daily had an 85 percent higher risk of liver cancer and 68 percent higher risk of chronic liver disease mortality compared to those who had fewer than three sugar sweetened beverages per month.

More studies are needed to validate this risk association and determine why the sugary drinks appeared to increase risk of liver cancer and disease. Furthermore, more research is needed to elucidate the potential mechanisms by integrating genetics, preclinical and experimental studies, and -omics data.


Longgang Zhao, Xinyuan Zhang, Mace Coday, David O. Garcia, Xinyi Li, Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Michelle J. Naughton, Melissa Lopez-Pentecost, Nazmus Saquib, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Michael S. Simon, Linda G. Snetselaar, Fred K. Tabung, Deirdre K. Tobias, Trang VoPham, Katherine A. McGlynn, Howard D. Sesso, Edward Giovannucci, JoAnn E. Manson, Frank B. Hu, Lesley F. Tinker, Xuehong Zhang. Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Liver Cancer and Chronic Liver Disease Mortality. JAMA, 2023; 330 (6): 537 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2023.12618

Mass General Brigham. (2023, August 8). Women who consumed sugar sweetened beverage daily had higher risk of developing liver cancer and chronic liver disease: Approximately 65% of adults in the United States consume sugar sweetened beverages daily. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 9, 2023 from

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