High fructose corn syrup increases risk factors for heart disease?

I dunno…. can you get heart disease in two weeks?

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) reports that “adults who consumed high fructose corn syrup for two weeks as 25 percent of their daily calorie requirement had increased blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which have been shown to be indicators of increased risk for heart disease.”

This prompted the study authors to conclude:

These results suggest that consumption of sugar may promote heart disease.

But given that heart disease is chronic and multifactorial in nature, can a scientist really claim that a 12-day trial of 48 adults provides any useful insight into the development of heart disease?

10 thoughts on “High fructose corn syrup increases risk factors for heart disease?”

  1. Where there is a study, there is a grant. Would have been worth more if they had thrown in ‘corn syrup, and global warming’.

  2. There was/is an interesting book “Sweet Poison” published in Oz a couple of years ago which suggested the cause of many of the multiple “life style” diseases typical of the west, such as heart disease, diabtes, obesity etc are a direct consequence of the human pancreas’s inability to identify fructose, as against all the other sugars (Sucrose, lactose etc) as a “sugar” per se.

    I found the reasoning intellectually appealing, namely the human genome is pretty ancient and when the final blueprints were laid down some aeons ago, because there were only limited opportunities for the early model humans to encounter fructose, (as in seasonally ripened fruit) there was no need to incorporate a specific digestion process

    The theory behind the book is that fructose, which is the sugar of choice for most commercial baking and food processes as it’s less costly than cane or beet sugars (sucrose), is immediately delivered into the liver via the pancreas and very soon thereafter winds up in the blood stream.

    Once it’s in the blood however, the pancreas is able to recognise the blood sugar level has gone up which causes some immediate concern and results in urgent action to immediately attempt to return the total blood sugar level to nomal. I’m assuming this is due to the complexity of the recovery process post digestion compared to the initial processing of food as a part of the normal digestion process. A consequence being over time, the serious health consequences may begin

    This is a pretty ordinary description (and possibly arse about) of what is a quite complex physiological process, and in no way matches the insight and analysis of the author; but in my case I was impressed enough to adopt the suggested total daily sugar intake and (somewhat to my surprise) saw my weight drop effotlessly from 103 kgs to today’s 82.5 kg over 18 months. The 1st six months were really dramatic however and solicited as many concerns about an underlying health concern as envy re my new sylph like shape.

    This mightn’t sound too big deal, but apart from my hugely reduced sugar intake over the last 5 years, (bolstered by a now obsessive scan of the manadatory food labelling required in Oz for sugar content); my old life style based on minimal exercise (walking being the only possibility with a 58 year old body and spine now paying for multiple prior insults caused by rugby and motor cycle and vehicle crashes) and a continuing enormous consumption of fine and not so fine foods (code for high fat, especially junk as in macca’s and burger kings, blue and and soft cheeses) and every form of alcohol worth drinking, has continued UNABATED!

    And for the record, I have no connection with the book or its author apart from buying multiple copies for friends and relatives. Be warned however, there is some stress because as it seems too good to be true, there is a huge reluctance to throw out the old wardrobe and invest in a new one which probably accounts for the continuing concerns about an underlying health issue.

    And just for the record (ii), today’s BP is 110 over 75 with a resting pulse of 52.

  3. Interesting. HFCS made up of 50-55% fructose is worse than sucrose which is a disaccharide (50% glucose, 50% fructose) that is readily hydrolyzed into component parts. I’m rather inclined to suggest that the study is at best a fluke.

  4. While I’m not opposed to the theory that we digest fructose differently (or less efficiently) than other sugars, I’d like to see some hard data. Without that it is just an interesting theory and nothing more.

  5. Several years ago, I heard (read) a Las Vegas journalist (who also writes books I read) complain, that the replacement of beet sugar by corn syrup in lemonades and the famous Atlanta drink is not good for the health of the American consumer. The replacement had been made also in the name of health. He specifically stated and complained about the fact, the change is government-driven. And he stated that in other countries, the beet sugar is still used.
    Naturally, beet sugar is cheaper than corn sweetener. In my country corn sweetener is a rarity or not available (I didn’t spot it in a supermarket), and sugar is cheap. The low cost of corn sweetener in the USA is caused by a subsidy.

    Maybe sweet corn needs a nixtamalization process before further processing, for its sugar to be digestible by man, maybe sweet corn is just worse.

  6. Quite aside from the plausibility of the study cited above, there is a lot of scientific evidence that HFCS is somehow different than sucrose in its metabolic effect on the human body (not that the effect of sucrose is good, either).

    Science writer (and Harvard physics alum) Gary Taubes has written about HFCS in “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” and there are plenty of scientific studies that can be Googled.

    Finally, to anyone who’s read even briefly on the topic of human insulin resistance and obesity, the author’s assertion that “These results suggest that consumption of sugar may promote heart disease,” is kind of like saying “Water is wet.”

  7. We (or at least I) have to disagree with your latest conclusion, Garry. (I mean the sentence “These results suggest that consumption of sugar may promote heart disease, is kind of like saying “Water is wet.””) It is not at all naturally obvious that sugar or sweet calories should be bad for our health, e.g. for our heart. Yes, in the last decade there were a lot of studies published that said so. But they are as unscientific as this study of the JCEM. They have been made to have a pretext to prescribe the common people their life style; in this case for the purpose to proscribe significant amounts of sweet food in their regular nutrition.

  8. I find this extremely odd. HFCS has practically the same sugar configuration as honey. Also, fructose is named fructose because it is the sugar in fruits and vegetables…

  9. As I recall, the author was a lawyer with a physician father-in-law who provided some direction and guidance; and as such the conclusions (which attracted my interest and which actually worked, and better yet continue to work for me) might reasonably be seen as a correlation rather than a causation

    Of course when the control is this individual single unit WASP in now otherwise rude good health, the stats and such are so overwhelming as to almost attain the degree of an IPCC level, despite sadly lacking hockey shticks, retreating glaciers, catastrophic sea-level rises, hymns to gaia and the optional drowned polar bear

    Given that there didn’t then appear to be any grants and such like sufficient to attract the odious interests of the M Manns (and other warmists and worse) of the now slightly disreputable acadame; a responsible and even respectable peer reviewed analysis might now be a reasonable project for an aspiring medical researcher, with or without the backing of a CSR or suchlike cane sugar refiner and which might additionally free up some much needed feed stock for the ethnol agri- business

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