Obese people who drink a lot of soft drinks and fruit juices are more likely to suffer significant liver damage, according to yet another study highlighting the dangers of fructose-sweetened beverages.
The study, by researchers at Duke University Medical Center, found frequent consumption of fructose -- a type of sugar found soft drinks and sweetened juices – raises the risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, inflammation and scarring.
The findings, published in the journal Hepatology, indicate sweetened beverages may deplete the body’s supplies of a molecule known as “ATP” that provides liver cells energy for metabolism and other processes.
"The stores of liver ATP are decreased in obese and/or diabetic individuals who chronically consume increased amounts of fructose-containing beverages," said lead resarcher Manal Abdelmalek.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can increase liver enzymes, inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis) in individuals who do not drink alcohol. It is the leading cause of chronic liver disease in the United States.
In addition to depleting ATP, fructose increases uric acid in the body, which has been linked with gout, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and kidney stones.