Scientists from several different institutions presented research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition citing a sugary beverage a day may be linked to significantly higher risks of liver cancer.

The researchers were from institutions that included the Harvard T.H. Chan School of public health, and they shared information that was gleaned from 90,504 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50-79 and which had been collected over 19 years of follow-up. The teams were interested in seeing patterns between the consumption of sugary drinks such as soda or even fruit drinks and the risks of liver cancer.

What they found was that women who had at least one sweet drink per day were 73% more likely to develop liver cancer than those women who had three or fewer sweet drinks a month. The data showed that women who drank one or more sweet beverages every day had 78% higher risk for liver cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund International lists liver cancer as the 6th most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the world, and the American Cancer Society says cases and associated deaths are on the rise in the United States.

Other evidence from prior research suggests other drinking habits affect liver cancer risks, including the drinking of alcohol having a higher risk and the drinking of coffee having lower risks. The research suggests cutting back on sugary drinks may help liver cancer risk reduction.

The team hypothesized that sweet drinks could increase liver cancer risk because of the sugar's side effects. Sugary beverages may disrupt insulin sensitivity, which makes a difference in one's blood sugar. Research has shown that high sugar consumption may also drive weight gain and this increases the risk of developing fat around the liver. These are risk factors that have been strongly linked to cancer risk.

The team noted that there is more research that is needed as the study is limited in that it is observational but does not directly show sweet drinks or the frequency of drinking sweet drinks causes cancer. Additionally, this doesn't give any insight into demographics like younger women or men.

Still, the effects of sugar on a myriad of other health issues are known, and understanding the risks that may be associated with cancer could guide people to make healthier decisions about their day-to-day drinking habits.