Science 4 min read

Health Effects of Sucrose Withheld by Sugar Industry 50 Years Ago

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WerbeFabrik |

The Sugar Industry is now being accused of withholding valuable information about the potential negative health effects of sucrose to humans.

The sugar industry is now in hot waters after a new study exposed its alleged efforts to hide the apparent health effects of sucrose to humans 50 years ago. The study, which was published on November 21st in the open access journal PLOS Biology, reported that five decades ago, the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), now known as World Sugar Research Organization, secretly funded an animal research project back in 1968 that produced substantial evidence linking sucrose to certain diseases.

Medical Xpress reported that Cristin Kearns, Dorie Apollonio, and Stanton Glantz, researchers from the University of California, discovered what appears to be a conspiracy within the sugar industry after reviewing internal documents. Apparently, the industry pulled the plug on the animal research project after results showed that sucrose was indeed associated with heart disease and bladder cancer.

So, after years of research, SRF, which changed its name to the International Sugar Research Foundation in 1969, terminated the funding of the project and the findings were never published. It seemed that the action was part of the sugar industry’s deliberate plan to suppress any adverse health effects of sucrose from going public and just publish results that would exonerate it.

New study suggest that #SugarIndustry withheld important #health data about sucrose.Click To Tweet

Hiding the Truth: The Health Effects of Sucrose

The project, which was titled Project 259: Dietary Carbohydrate and Blood Lipids in Germ-Free Rats, was led by Dr. W.F.R. Pover at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom between 1967 and 1971. It was initially funded by SRF to discount any evidence linking sucrose consumption to blood lipid levels and coronary heart disease (CHD).

The researchers from the University of California used a narrative case study method to assess Project 259. The team gathered sugar industry’s internal documents from Internet archives, University of Illinois Archives, and correspondences kept at the Countway Library of Medicine in Boston to uncover the unpublished results of the abandoned project.

Project 259 allegedly used rats and guinea pigs to measure the nutritional effects of the bacterial organisms in the intestinal tract when sucrose was consumed, compared to starch. The two animals were given either a regular diet with more-complex carbohydrates or a diet high in sugar.

Dr. Pover and his team initially found that sucrose changed the composition of the gut flora of the test subjects, apparently leading to higher levels of tryglycerides. The animals placed in high sugar diet were also found to have higher levels of beta-glucuronidase, a compound thought to be associated with bladder disease in humans.

What Really Happened?

When the first stage of the study was completed in 1970, and the initial results of the research were presented to SRF, the scientists said that they needed 12 more weeks to round out the data and asked for more funding. However, ISRF refused the request, and no funding was further given.

“The sugar industry did not disclose evidence of harm from animal studies that would have strengthened the case that the CHD risk of sucrose is greater than starch and caused sucrose to be scrutinized as a potential carcinogen,” the UC researchers wrote.

While the researchers admitted that they don’t know for sure why the results of Project 259 were never published, the documents they obtained suggest the potential health effects of sucrose to people. However, the U.S. lobbying group, Sugar Association, which has ties with the WSRO, dismissed the UC researchers’ study as nothing more than a perspective. In a statement to Quartz, they said:

“The article we are discussing is not actually a study, but a perspective: a collection of speculations and assumptions about events that happened nearly five decades ago, conducted by a group of researchers and funded by individuals and organizations that are known critics of the sugar industry.”

The Sugar Association also emphasized the researchers’ lack of effort to reach out to them during their investigation. The Association claimed that SRF then refused to further fund Project 259 because it was already delayed and over budget. They cited that the British Nutrition Foundation was supposed to take over, but they are unaware why it never transpired.

Was it a deliberate attempt to hide the real health effects of sucrose or just plain lack of budget? What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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