Too Much Sugar Can Harm Livers of Even Healthy Men

From - October 6, 2017

Too Much Sugar Can Harm Livers of Even Healthy Men

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2017 -- Here's news that might sour you on sweets: New research shows that overdoing it on sugar might harm the livers of otherwise healthy men.

British researchers found that a sugar-rich diet was associated with unhealthily high levels of fat in both the blood and the liver.

The bottom line, said lead researcher Bruce Griffin, is that "consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease."

Griffin is professor of nutritional metabolism at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England.

One U.S. nutritionist was not surprised by the findings.

"This study offers yet another valid reason to cut back on sugar," said Dana Angelo White. She is a dietitian and clinical assistant professor of sports medicine at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

"In addition to piling on the empty calories, sugar creates more metabolic work for the liver," she noted.

In the study, Griffin's team tracked the liver health of a group of middle-aged men with either high (11 men) or low (14 men) levels of fat in their liver.

Excess fat accumulation in the liver is considered unhealthy, and the men with high fat levels already had a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). According to the American Liver Foundation, NAFLD is tied to obesity and affects up to one-quarter of Americans.

The men were asked to follow one of two diets: a high-sugar diet, consuming 650 calories' worth of sugar each day for three months; or a low-sugar diet that contained no more than 140 calories of sugar per day.

The investigators found that the participants with NAFLD who followed the high-sugar diet developed changes in their fat metabolism -- the processes by which the body breaks down fats in the blood and uses them for energy. Those changes are well-known to be linked to a greater risk for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke, the research team said.

But similar changes were also noted in the livers of otherwise healthy men who had a low level of liver fat when the study began.

In this group, men developed higher levels of this fat in the liver after switching to the high-sugar diet. The researchers also found changes in their fat metabolism that were similar to the men who already had NAFLD.

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