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Dangerous Side Effects of Drinking Sugary Beverages, According to Science

These drinks aren't doing your body any favors.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Nothing can quench thirst while tasting delicious like a glass of juice, cola, or sweet tea. Drinking sugary beverages taste great in the moment but hide loads of danger under their unassuming surface. Even beverages that get marketed as "healthy" can present some pretty insidious side effects if you don't drink them in moderation. While these novelties can brighten our day, they can wreak havoc on our bodies.

Scientists have studied the effects of sweet beverages for years and the known side effects of constantly drinking these products have been well documented. While an occasional soda or juice probably won't hurt your general health, having one too many energy drinks or sodas can cause a wide variety of consequences that you don't want in your life. According to the Harvard Medical School, opt for a cup of water instead of an extra sugary drink when a craving strikes to help you avoid any unwanted health concerns down the road.

By consulting the vast amount of scientific research devoted to studying what dangerous side effects stem from drinking sugary beverages, we have assembled the master list of what dangerous side effects you might face if you drink one too many. Read on to discover what dangers lurk at the bottom of that coke can, and for even more drinking tips, be sure to check out our list of 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.

Liver disease

fruit flavored sodas in glass bottles with straws

When we down one too many drinks loaded with sugar, we put undue stress on our livers. This punishment adds up—according to an article published through the Journal of Hepatology, increased consumption of sugar in the form of corn syrup has a direct link to rising rates of liver disease and failure.

Any sugar can end up causing this same damage to your liver. In a similar study retrieved from the journal Nutrients indicates that any sugar leads to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and when you take in a ton of this additive in the form of sports drinks, juice, or soda, you put yourself in immediate harm's way. If you crave a beverage more exciting with water, opt for a drink that doesn't have added sugar, like black coffee or plain tea to avoid this consequence while indulging a bit.

For the best alternative drinks, check out The Healthiest Drinks to Sip Right Now, According to Dietitians.

Heart disease

Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

As we learn more about what sugar does to our body, the correlation between the sweet stuff and heart disease grows stronger than ever. With so many potential drinks leading to heart cardiovascular complications, we can pinpoint a key root back to sugary beverages. According to a study published through the Journal of Nutrition, increased sugar intake directly correlates to heart problems, and children particularly face this issue. Whether an adult or child takes in more sugar through drinks, both situations lead to an accumulation of fat that causes the highest amount of heart problems.

According to another study found in The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the same visceral fat links to heart disease, insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes, and a variety of other cardiovascular anomalies you don't want to deal with. In order to keep your heart strong and free of disease, avoid drinking too many sugary beverages, or else you might face heart problems down the road.

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Leptin resistance

Iced tea

Even if leptin resistance sounds scary and foreign, you probably know a few folks who face it, especially if they can't resist grabbing extra-large smoothies or sodas. According to a piece of research published through Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, leptins constitute several chemicals that normalize our metabolism, immune system, and more. When individuals face obesity, they have trouble creating and processing leptins, leading to a vast array of issues.

A key cause of leptin resistance stems from consuming too much sugar. In an article retrieved from The British Journal of Nutrition, sugar from sweetened beverages plays a major role in developing this issue, while a sugar-free diet can actually reverse this condition. If you can't put down the juice, you might face this deadly side effect that leads to metabolic disorders, thyroid complications, and more.

In order to keep your leptins under control and keep cravings at bay, check out 9 Healthy Foods That Turn Off Your Hunger Switch Fast.

Sugar addiction


If you can't go without some extra sugar in your coffee or need that midday boost from your favorite energy drink, you might also face a serious mental side effect of drinking sugary beverages. Soft drinks loaded with sweeteners help release dopamine, creating a stimulating, addictive effect that can prove difficult to break.

According to a study in the journal Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, scientists found that foods and drinks, including sodas, juice, and more, have a concrete chance of creating a sugar addiction. This same addiction can lead individuals down the road to obesity and a variety of other negative health factors. These addictions proved so strong, the research indicates that in order to break these patterns, mental health professionals had to give victims of this side effect pharmaceuticals and counseling that those who faced narcotic or alcohol addiction require.

The study Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake further outlined how sugar forms addictive patterns when fed to rats. If you want to steer clear of this side effect, opt for a more wholesome drink next time thirst strikes, like one of these 12 Healthiest Teas on Grocery Store Shelves.

Risk of pancreatic cancer

Pouring orange juice

Our bodies undergo constant rigor, so why should we punish them with extra servings of sugar found in some of our most common sweet drinks? Our pancreas bears a heavy burden when it tries to process all of the sugar we throw at it.

According to a study from the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, an uptick in consumption of soft drinks led to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer in the study's test group.

Tooth decay

Soda in glasses

If you think your dental health could go unscathed when you drink too many sugary treats, guess again! According to the Comparison of the cariogenicity of cola, honey, cow milk, human milk, and sucrose, colas and sucrose caused a wide range of corrosive damage when tested in a lab. Considering that we find sucrose in many of our sweetened drinks, we put our mouths in harm's way on a daily basis.

Further causation appeared in the study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicating a clear connection between sugar intake and the destruction of our teeth. Ensure you don't have to make a few extra dentist trips this year and keep the soft drinks out of arm's reach to guarantee a healthy mouth.



While we often think of salt's relation to gout, don't assume sugary drinks won't cause this dangerous side effect. Science has proven a link exists between the increased intake of fructose and developing gout, as outlined in a study retrieved from the British Medical Journal. If you drink juices or smoothies, you might be ingesting more fructose than you need, leading to this dangerous condition.

This side effect gets complicated further thanks to the work outlined in a study by the JAMA Network. Women who drink sugary drinks succumb to the particularly high raised chance of getting gout from drinking certain sweet soft drinks, making them a particularly high at-risk group. To avoid this dangerous side effect, remember to drink everything in moderation, or else you might have to face some dire consequences.

For drinks that will make your body happy, check out our list of The 14 Best Drinks to Drive Weight Loss, According to Experts.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich
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