Postmenopausal women who consume 1 or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day may have an increased risk of liver cancer, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Compared to postmenopausal women who drink 3 or fewer sugar-sweetened beverages per month, those who drink 1 or more per day have a significantly higher risk of liver cancer, researchers reported. They found no such association for artificially sweetened beverages.
In this study, questionnaires were given to 98,786 women, aged 50-79 years, who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative from 1993-1998 and followed until March 2020.
The baseline questionnaire included 2 questions on intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, defined as soft drinks or fruit drinks but not fruit juices. A 3-year follow-up questionnaire included 1 question on intake of artificially sweetened beverages.
With a median follow-up of 20.9 years, 207 women developed liver cancer. About 7% of women consumed 1 or more servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, and about 13% consumed 1 or more artificially sweetened beverages per day.
The rate of liver cancer was 18.0 per 100,000 person-years for women who consumed 1 or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day and 10.3 per 100,000 person-years in women who consumed 3 or fewer sugar-sweetened beverages per month.
In a multivariable analysis, the risk of liver cancer was significantly higher among the women who consumed 1 or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day than among those who consumed 3 or fewer per month (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.85; 95% CI, 1.16-2.96; P =.01).
The researchers found opposite results when they evaluated the 64,787 women with available data on consumption of artificially sweetened drinks.
There was no significant difference in the risk of liver cancer between women who consumed 1 or more artificially sweetened beverages per day and those who consumed 3 or fewer artificially sweetened beverages per month (aHR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.70-1.94; P =.66).
Future studies should confirm these results and identify the biological pathways of any associations, the researchers wrote.
Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.
Zhao L, Zhang X, Coday M, et al. Sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages and risk of liver cancer and chronic liver disease mortality. JAMA. Published online August 8, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.12618
This article originally appeared on Cancer Therapy Advisor