Women who consume sugar-sweetened beverages once or more daily are at a higher risk of developing diseases like liver cancer and chronic hepatitis, says an observational study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The study included nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative and followed them for more than 20 years. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to report an association between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and chronic liver disease mortality,” said first author Longgang Zhao of the Brigham’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. (Also read | Furry fruit improves mental health: Study)
The researchers studied self-reported liver cancer incidence and death due to chronic liver disease.
Soft drinks being high in sugar and soda pose grave risk to a person’s overall health and puts one at risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, liver damage, digestive issues and bone health troubles. The risk is even more for women as compared to men who find themselves at an elevated risk of liver cancer, high risk pregnancy, heart conditions to gout, finds out the study.
Side effects of regular soft drink consumption for women
“As soft drinks remain one of the most commonly consumed beverages in recent years being the highlight of parties and get together meetings, its effects on human health cannot be overlooked. It has been very well known that these soft drinks are loaded with sugars, not to mention the added soda that makes them worse for health without adding any nutritional value. The perils of soft drink intake are well documented for everyone, but recent studies have highlighted that these drinks can cause more deleterious effects on females,” says Dr Niti Kaushik (Director & H.O.D- Obstetrics & Gynaecology), Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad.
“Consuming high-sugar beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee concoctions every day may not only cause obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease but it may also make you prone to chronic liver disease and liver cancer. The sugar itself does not raise the risk of cancer, excess calories obtained from regular consumption of sugary beverages may contribute to risk factors such as being overweight and obese leading to breast, pancreatic and liver cancer. Regular consumption of these sugary beverages may pose a risk of fibrosis, cirrhosis and chronic liver inflammation in both women and men. Drinking sweetened beverages in high quantities may cause rapid increase in blood glucose resulting in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is known as the major risk factor for liver diseases and liver cancer,” says Dr. Punit Singla, Director & HOD-Liver Transplant & HPB Surgery, Marengo Asia Hospitals Faridabad.
Here are 5 major side effects of regular consumption of soft drinks in women as per Dr Kaushik:
High risk pregnancy
High levels of sugars make you prone to obesity, diabetes, and a myriad of other conditions associated with it. Though these conditions are deleterious for both genders, they add the disadvantage of high risk in pregnancy and difficult conception in women.
Increases risk of cancer
The sugar free or zero sugar soft drinks use aspartame as a sweetener, which makes you prone to many metabolic diseases including susceptibility to cancer.
Recent studies have also suggested an increased incidence of hepatitis and subsequently hepatic carcinoma in women who consumed soda on a daily basis. This mainly results in due to increase in oestrogen.
According to American Journal of public health, consumption of 20 ounce of soda per day accelerates ageing by over 4 and half years. This mainly relates to the high caloric value of soft drinks.
An excess of soda leads to lowering in serum Potassium, which makes you prone to heart conditions such as arrhythmia.
Increased risk of gout
An elevated risk of gout has been found in women with daily consumption of soda. One of the main ingredients of soft drinks is phosphoric acid, which depletes calcium out of bones.
Healthy beverages that can be added to diet
People are advised to cut intake of added sugar beverages to lower the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases, says Dr Singla as he suggests healthy alternatives to sugary soft drinks.
Grape juice: You can opt for the best alternatives to avoid high sugar soft drinks. Take grape juice as Grapefruit is loaded with two primary antioxidants such as naringin and naringenin. These may keep your liver healthy by minimizing inflammation and safeguarding the liver cells.
Beetroot juice: Consumption of beetroot juice is also very beneficial. The nitrates and antioxidants present in it can help reduce oxidative damage and inflammation of the liver.
Lemon water: Drink lemon water because the high amounts of Vitamin C and antioxidants found in lemon can help prevent many liver diseases and also help in flushing out toxins from the liver.
Green tea: The antioxidants present in green tea help reduce liver enzyme levels in patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Dr Kaushik adds other healthy options for you that can replace soft drinks.
Sparkling water: This can be a replacement to soft drinks for people who prefer drinks with a fizz. They do contain dissolved CO2 but are better than soda drinks.
Fruit juices: They are rich in minerals and vitamins and also can prevent dehydration.
Milk: If you are not lactose intolerant, this could a great source of protein and calcium for you.
Coconut water: Rich in calcium with almost zero calories, it is preferable for women who are looking to lose weight.