Simple sugar intake and hepatocellular carcinoma: epidemiological and mechanistic insight

Nutrients. 2014 Dec 22;6(12):5933-54. doi: 10.3390/nu6125933.


Sugar intake has dramatically increased during the last few decades. Specifically, there has been a clear trend towards higher consumption of fructose and high fructose corn syrup, which are the most common added sugars in processed food, soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. Although still controversial, this rising trend in simple sugar consumption has been positively associated with weight gain and obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Interestingly, all of these metabolic alterations have also been related to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. The purpose of this review is to discuss the evidence coming from epidemiological studies and data from animal models relating the consumption of simple sugars, and specifically fructose, with an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and to gain insight into the putative molecular mechanisms involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Carbonated Beverages / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Fructose