For those that have experienced the many benefits of the ketogenic lifestyle, it’s commonly known that sugar is not good for you. Unfortunately, there is still a prevailing narrative across much of society that demonizes fat as the primary culprit in health problems like obesity and heart disease, and pays little attention to the terrible impact that sugar has on those diseases and other health problems. Recently, evidence has come out that the sugar industry worked to bury the results of a study linking sugar to serious health consequences, including heart disease and cancer.
Since the 1960s, the sugar industry has been determined to discredit any link between sugar and heart disease. Industry groups have funded numerous studies with the goal ofshifting the blame for heart disease from sugar to fat, and worked to obfuscate any links between sugar and serious health consequences. A recent paper, published in the Public Library of Science Biology journal, revealed that the International Sugar Research Foundation (ISRF) shut down a study that linked a high-sugar diet to heart disease and cancer.
In the paper, authors Cristin Kearns, Dorie Apollonio, and Stanton Glantz of the University of California San Francisco, examined internal documents from the ISRF regarding a 1968 study known as Project 259. At the time, there was disagreement in the scientific community regarding the impact of sugar consumption on triglycerides in the blood. Elevated triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, so the ISRF was determined to disprove the idea that sugar might elevate triglycerides, effectively disproving a link between sugar and heart disease.
Project 259 compared two groups of rats, one fed a diet of starch, and the other fed a diet high in sucrose (common table sugar). Preliminary results of the Project 259 suggested notable biological differences between the sugar fed rats and the starch fed rats. It suggested two troubling effects of the diet high in sugar: that it may be linked to bladder cancer, and that it could in fact elevate triglycerides.
The possible link between sugar and bladder cancer centered on the decreased presence of a beta-glucuronidase inhibitor in the urine of rats fed the high sugar diet, when compared to that of the rats fed the high starch diet. The presence of high levels of the enzyme beta-glucuronidase in urine was known at the time to be positively associated with the development of bladder cancer. So the decreased presence of a beta-glucuronidase inhibitor suggests an increased presence of the enzyme, and thus an increased risk for bladder cancer.
Project 259’s funding was cut when the ISRF received the results regarding triglycerides, the study was was left unfinished, and its finding weren’t published. This meant that not only was the potential link between sugar and heart disease buried, but the possible connection between sugar and bladder cancer remained unreported and wasn’t studied further. The new paper’s authors argue that ISRF’s motivation in terminating the study was to preserved the notion that sugar consumption was not linked to heart disease, and thus protecting their commercial interests.
The ISRF, now called the Sugar Association, claims that the study was cut for reasons not related to the preliminary findings, and maintains that there is still no credible evidence linking sugar consumption to cancer.
Stanton Glantz, professor at UCSF’s Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, and a co-author of the paper, toldTonic “Their goal was to derail the scientific conversation on these issues—and they did a pretty good job of it.”