That beloved sweetener, known as high fructose corn syrup, appears in hundreds of food products in the United States, especially soft drinks. While fructose also comes from other sources such as fruit, vegetables and old-fashioned table sugar, Americans consume much of their fructose in corn syrup. If you’ve decided to cut down on the amount of corn syrup in your diet, you may be doing the right thing to protect your health. At least, that’s according to an alarming new study conducted by scientists at UCLA who discovered that the popular sweetener may increase the growth rate of cancer cells.
Specifically, researchers at UCLA found that pancreatic cancer cells grew faster when “fed” with fructose. In addition, the study’s primary author, Dr. Anthony Heaney, also concluded that it was likely that fructose would also speed the growth of other types of cancer cells. Dr. Heaney’s primary concern is the large amount of high fructose corn syrup in the average American diet, which is also linked to other health problems like obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver. Overall, Heaney hopes that the results of his study will prompt the government to reduce Americans’ consumption of high fructose corn syrup.
However, the study obviously left a bitter taste in the corn lobbyists’ mouths. According to the Corn Refiners Association, this study cannot be accurately applied to humans, since the research was conducted on cancer cells in test tubes. Instead, they argue that the study fails to fully capture the way in which fructose is consumed in the human body, and that the causes of pancreatic cancer are complicated and poorly understood.
Indeed, between 1970 and 1990, consumption of high fructose corn syrup rose by 1,000 percent, according to the UCLA researchers. But don’t be fooled by other products that replace high fructose corn syrup with sugar—they still contain high levels of fructose.