New Revelation Sugar Industry Covered Up Serious Disease Link 50 Years Ago
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
You may have heard of the sugar industry’s attempt to get dietary fat blamed for heart disease when it manipulated results to cover up sugar’s role in cardiovascular illness. There is more to the story…
Last year, three researchers turned heads everywhere when they uncovered evidence that the sugar industry secretly funded studies on sugar’s effects on mammals, only to then cut off from the results when sugar’s links to life-threatening disease emerged.
Instead, the sugar industry emphasized the role of dietary fat and sat back while high-fat foods took all the blame and Americans unwittingly continued to consume a toxic, disease-causing, refined product. This propaganda stunt not only caused other Big Food sectors to kick their own PR games into high gear, but also inadvertently created a decades-old inflammatory, hydrogenated-oil monstrosity that continues today.
Now, a year later, the researchers are back at it! Science Daily reports*:
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the open access journal PLOS Biology.
Researchers Cristin Kearns, Dorie Apollonio and Stanton Glantz from the University of California at San Francisco reviewed internal sugar industry documents and discovered that the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) funded animal research to evaluate sucrose’s effects on cardiovascular health. When the evidence seemed to indicate that sucrose might be associated with heart disease and bladder cancer, they found, the foundation terminated the project without publishing the results.
Previously, it was discovered that the SRF had secretly funded a 1967 review article that downplayed evidence linking refined sugar consumption to coronary heart disease. That review noted that gut microbes may explain why rats fed sugar had higher cholesterol levels than those fed starch, but dismissed any relevance for humans.
In the new paper, however, published this week in PLOS Biology,
…the team reports that the following year, SRF (which hadchanged its name in 1968 to the International Sugar Research Foundation, or ISRF) launched a rat study called Project 259 ‘to measure the nutritional effects of the [bacterial] organisms in the intestinal tract’ when sucrose was consumed, compared to starch.
The ISRF-funded research on rats by W.R.F. Pover of the University of Birmingham suggested that gut bacteria help mediate sugar’s adverse cardiovascular effects. Pover also reported findings that might indicate an increased risk of bladder cancer. “This incidental finding of Project 259 demonstrated to ISRF that sucrose vs. starch consumption caused different metabolic effects,” Kearns and her colleagues argue, “and suggested that sucrose, by stimulating urinary beta-glucuronidase, may have a role in the pathogenesis of bladder cancer.”
The ISRF described the finding in a September 1969 internal document as “one of the first demonstrations of a biological difference between sucrose and starch fed rats.” But soon after ISRF learned about these results — and shortly before the research project was complete — the group terminated funding for the project, and no findings from the work were published.
Project 259 would have provided helpful evidence that there is a difference to human health between consuming refined sugar and starch which occurs abundantly in many nutritious vegetables, ancient grains and fruits. In the 1960s, scientists were debating the dietary cause of raised triglycerides…
As you can see, whole-food starches were unfairly demonized while the sugar industry sat back, reaping all the benefits from everyone’s ignorance. Even old magazine ads reveal the sugar industry making outrageous claims that sugary junk food could aid weight loss – that one could eat a chocolate bar or drink a cola before a meal to cut food consumption.
Today – cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer in the world.
And cancer isn’t too far behind in first-world countries…
Bombshell report continues…
The results suggest that the current debate on the relative effects of sugar vs. starch may be rooted in more than 60 years of industry manipulation of science. Last year, the Sugar Association criticized a mouse study suggesting a link between sugar and increased tumor growth and metastasis, saying that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established.”
The analysis by Kearns and her colleagues of the industry’s own documents, in contrast, suggests that the industry knew of animal research suggesting this link and halted funding to protect its commercial interests half a century ago.
Co-author Stanton Glantz said:
The kind of manipulation of research is similar what the tobacco industry does -This kind of behavior calls into question sugar industry-funded studies as a reliable source of information for public policy making.
The authors concluded that extending Project 259’s funding would have been detrimental to the sugar industry. Thus, the researchers successfully unearthed solid proof of industry manipulation of science and the disease link with sugar. How sad that this revelation took generations to finally surface.
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*all emphasis added by H.C.
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