An article by Dr. David Johnson published in Medscape this week makes a strong case for banning foods using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from your diet.
Dr. Johnson is professor of medicine and chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.
What makes this article stand out is that it contains both of the requirements for a serious claim of a causal relationship between what you eat and how you get sick:
- There’s data showing an uptick in cancers in parallel with use of high fructose corn syrup.
- Dr. Johnson also lays out the chemical and biological processes by which HFCS affects cancer growth, and data supporting that those processes are in fact happening.
It’s actually a very elegant presentation.
The research is based on mouse models, not human models. But there is scant reason to think the information wouldn’t apply to humans. The surging rate of colon cancer among younger adults (20s and 30s) seems to require action. The lack of screening of that age group for colon cancer means that it tends to be detected relatively late, when the cancer is either life-threatening or a major issue for quality of life.
What the food industry doesn’t get is that this is so unnecessary. Food and beverage companies switched to HFCS circa 1980 due to it’s lower cost relative to price of sugar. But why was the price of sugar so high? It was partly due to the trade embargo with Cuba, and lobbying by the Dole Company for import restrictions. If we actually had a free market, it’s been speculated that sugar would be 6 cents per pound.
The food industry also doesn’t get that many consumers prefer the taste of sugar over HFCS. I’m one of them. Soda products sold in Mexico use cane sugar rather than HFCS and I strongly prefer the taste. Companies that do understand consumer preferences have been adding chemicals to make HFCS taste more like sugar. Just exactly how is that good for consumers?
OK, so the US places business interests ahead of health, and then we complain about how much we have to spend on healthcare. And what we really do is health repair, not health care. Makes sense, right?
- Allison Meyers et. al., “High fructose corn syrup induces metabolic dysregulation and altered dopamine signaling in the absence of obesity,” PLoS One. 2017; 12(12): e0190206 with the abstract at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747444/