Apr 01, 2012 2:14 AM GMT
A recent study supports the idea that excess consumption of high fructose corn syrup is linked to an increase in risk factors for heart disease by increasing a type of cholesterol that can clog arteries. The University of California, Davis, study also indicated that calories from added sugars are different than those from other foods. Subjects had 25 percent of their caloric intake replaced with sweetened drinks. Nutritional biologist Kimber Stanhope was surprised to see that after only two weeks, "We found that the subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup had increased levels of LDL cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease," she tells Gupta. "I started eating and drinking a whole lot less sugar."
What happens says Stanhope, is the liver gets overloaded with fructose and converts come of it into fat, which gets into the bloodstream to create "small dense LDL," the kind of LDL that forms plaque in arteries. The irony here is that for precisely that reason - avoiding heart disease - a government commission in the 1970s mandated that we lower our fat consumption. "When you take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard," says Dr. Lustig. "And the food industry knew that, so they replaced it with sugar...and guess what? Heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and death are skyrocketing," he tells Gupta.
And other scientific work shows that sugar could also be helping some cancer tumors to grow because sugar stimulates the production of the hormone insulin. Nearly a third of common cancers such as some breast and colon cancers, contain insulin receptors that eventually signal the tumor to consume glucose. Lewis Cantley, a Harvard professor and head of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, says some of those cancers have learned to adapt to an insulin-rich environment. "They have evolved the ability to hijack that flow of glucose that's going by in the bloodstream into the tumor itself."