Fructose Can Accelerate Growth of Cancer Cells: Study

Photo: nateOne (Flickr)

As if the annoying, misleading ads from the makers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) weren't enough food for thought already, CBS News reports that researchers from UCLA have found that fructose -- which is a component of HFCS (a suspected culprit in America's obesity epidemic) -- could accelerate the growth of cancerous cells. The study discovered that pancreatic cancer cells grew faster when they were given fructose, leading scientists to surmise that it's likely that fructose could also cause other cancers to grow faster as well.Fructose naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables, but scientists pointed to the increased intake of refined sweeteners as the cause for concern: "The bottom line is the modern diet contains a lot of refined sugar including fructose and it's a hidden danger implicated in a lot of modern diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and fatty liver," wrote study author Dr. Anthony Heaney, associate professor of medicine and neurosurgery at UCLA's cancer center.

Government action?
"I think this paper has a lot of public health implications," said Heaney. "Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back on the amount of HFCS in our diets."

And what a step back it would be: according to the study, consumption of high-fructose corn syup rose a whopping 1,000 percent from 1970 to 1990. This sweetener, the most common and cheaply-produced sweetener in processed foods and soft drinks, is sourced from corn and is actually a blend of fructose, glucose and enzymes alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, and xylose isomerase.

More evidence against high-fructose corn syrup
The study, which was published in the August edition of Cancer Research, is another piece of evidence among many out there now that shows HFCS is dangerous to your health. Despite the HFCS industry's claims that HCFS is "natural" and is no different than other sugars, previous studies have already showed that the body reacts differently to HFCS than natural sugars. And there's nothing natural about HFCS: from the presence of mercury, to the highly unnatural way that it is made, people are waking up to the fact that HFCS is something to be avoided. In the last decade alone, consumer demand for HCFS has dropped 11 percent.

The Corn Refiners Association's reaction to the study was to take cover:

This study does not look at the way fructose is actually consumed by humans, as it was conducted in a laboratory, not inside the human body.

[..] The causes of pancreatic cancer are poorly understood. To blame one component of the diet is highly speculative based on one, small study done in a Petri dish.

On the one hand, this may have a ring of truth, but it also has the self-serving ring of more marketing. Even if there are a host of other potentially disease-causing factors in the typical Standard American Diet (which there most probably are), in light of these findings it still might be a good idea to follow the precautionary principle when it comes to HFCS.

More on High-Fructose Corn Syrup
4 Reasons to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup
Don't Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup? You're Both Snobby and a Racist
Study Shows You Get Fatter From HFCS Than From Sugar
High Fructose Corn Syrup Producers on a Roll
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