Just two cans of fizzy drink a day can increase risk of liver damage by 80 per cent.
Drinking just two glasses of fruit juice or fizzy drink each day may cause long-term liver damage resulting in the need for a transplant, according to new research published today.
Liver damage is usually associated with alcohol abuse but a new study has found that drinks with a high sugar content can cause a condition called fatty liver disease, making them even more dangerous than alcohol abuse.
Israeli scientists found that people who drank a litre of high-sugar fizzy drinks or fresh fruit juice each day were five times more likely to develop fatty liver disease
They found that even a couple of cans of beverages such as Coca Cola raised the risk of liver damage, as well as diabetes and heart damage.
Doctors at the Ziv Liver unit in Haifa, Israel compared two groups of volunteers, neither of which had a risk of developing fatty liver disease.
The results at the end of the study showed that 80 per cent of those who had consumed high-sugar fizzy drinks and fruit juices had fatty liver changes, while only 17 per cent of the control group – who had not been drinking sugary beverages – developed fatty livers.
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Dr Nimer Assy who lead the study said the research showed that long-term consumption of high-sugar beverages could result in liver failure and the need for a transplant.
He explained that freshly-squeezed fruit juices could be as dangerous as highly sweetened carbonated soda.
‘The ingredient in fizzy drinks and juices that causes the damage is a fruit sugar called fructose, which is highly absorbable in the liver,’ he said.
‘It does not affect insulin production and goes straight to the liver where it is converted to fat.
‘Fructose increases the chances of suffering from a fatty liver, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.’
The father-of-five, who confessed to letting his own children drink Coca Cola recommended that parents limit their children’s intake of sweetened beverages to no more than one cup, juice box or can each day.
He added that parents should replace the juice in their children’s lunch boxes with a bottle of water.
To reap the maximum benefit from fruit, and to avoid the risk of liver damage, Dr Assy suggested eating the fruit whole: ‘Whole oranges have fibre that prevents fructose from being absorbed into the liver,’ he explained.
Dr Assy’s study was inspired by patients with fatty liver disease at his clinic: ‘We have noticed recently that there are many patients coming to the clinic with fatty infiltration of the liver.
‘Usually the risk factor is for people with obesity, diabetes and alcohol abuse, but we noticed some people without these pre-conditions could have fatty liver.’
Dr Assy said that even diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners were not without risk.
‘While diet drinks do not contain fructose, they do have aspartame and caramel colourants – both these can increase insulin resistance and may induce fatty liver,’ he said.
Imogen Shillito, the British Liver Trust’s Director of Information and Education said: ‘We’re very concerned that the rising tide of obesity is putting people’s liver health at risk. Fatty liver disease in the UK is set to get worse with the rising rates of obesity.
‘This research highlights that people should watch their sugar intake as well as their alcohol intake in their drinks to avoid liver damage and reduce the risk of liver cancer.
‘A healthy diet, including fresh fruit and regular exercise, will help reduce your risk of developing fatty liver disease.‘
Source:MailOnline: 9th. Aug.2009