You’re heading home after work and pull into a drive-thru, ordering a crisp, sweet drink to offset your headache while you steel yourself for rush hour traffic. Whether your beverage of choice is soda, a vanilla latte or sweet tea, the very thing that makes them hit the spot could result in serious problems … beyond a trip to the dentist.
Of course, you’re far from alone. About 65% of adults in the United States indulge in a sugar-sweetened beverage daily. But according to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, consuming sugar-sweetened drinks can spell trouble in the form of liver cancer — or liver disease — for women.
Nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women reported on their consumption of typical soft drinks and fruit-flavored drinks as part of the study. After three years, they described their artificially sweetened drink consumption. Researchers then kept tabs on the women for about 20 years.
Importantly, the study found that the 6.8% of women who reported having one or more sugar-sweetened drinks daily had an 85% higher risk of liver cancer compared with those who said they drank fewer than three sugary drinks a month.
The sugar-sweetened drinks group also had a 68% higher risk of dying from chronic liver disease than did the women who avoided sugar.
Like many studies that rely on self-reported outcomes, more research is needed to fully explore the risks associated with sugary beverages and liver cancer and disease. For now, perhaps err on the side of sugar-free drinkable treats like seltzers or indulge in a piece of fruit.
And if the traffic’s still making your head pound, maybe grab some aspirin and turn on soothing music.