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HFCS linked to serious weight gain, liver scarring

How many deaths will be traced back to HFCS?
High-fructose corn syrup is in just about any kind of food you can imagine. Sweet or savory, it doesn’t matter—HFCS is there. We’ve known for a while this stuff is bad news, but new research out of Princeton shows just how dangerous this grocery-store dominator actually is.

Think that subject line is a little too dramatic?

I wish it were. But I just read about a new study that could once and for all link HFCS to the biggest killers of our time.

Researchers at Princeton have concluded that, when it comes to weight gain, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is pretty much the worst food product you can put in your body — far worse than fat or sucrose.

Now, Nutrition & Healing readers have known for years that HFCS is bad news. But no matter how bad we thought it was — it’s worse. And the mainstream is finally opening their eyes.

In the study, rats that were fed HFCS gained significantly more weight than rats that were given table sugar, even when they were eating the same number of daily calories.

Oh, and weight gain wasn’t the worst of it. Long-term consumption also led to abnormal increases in body fat (especially in the abdomen, which studies have shown is the worst place to have a higher level of body fat) and a rise in circulating triglycerides. The conclusion? HFCS seems to be a major player in what people like to call the “obesity epidemic.”

Now, some people might think, “Yeah, okay, but how much HFCS were these rats given? It was probably all they were eating. What does that prove?”

Well, here comes the worst part — these rats were being fed HFCS at levels well below the equivalent of what’s in soda. And they were becoming obese. All of them. The researchers noted that when rats are fed a high-fat diet, they don’t ALL gain weight. With HFCS, obesity was practically guaranteed.

As the Princeton team pointed out, the increases in body fat and higher levels of triglycerides are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes in humans.

Those “HFCS is just like other sugars and sweeteners ” commercials (“New ad campaign supports high fructose corn syrup,” 10/15/2008) are starting to look even more ridiculous (and dangerous) now, aren’t they? In fact, the researchers specifically called out those claims, saying they “just aren’t true.”

If the Princeton study weren’t enough, more bad news about HFCS recently hit the news waves. Research soon to be published in the journal Hepatology links HFCS to liver scarring in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

This could be the death knell for HFCS. One can hope, anyway. But I suspect the industry will figure out some spin strong enough to nudge the evidence out of everyone’s minds.

Until HFCS is gone for good, the best thing we can do is spread the word. It’s amazing that the food industry has been allowed to poison people for so long. How many heart- and cancer-related deaths can ultimately be traced back to HFCS? We’ll never know for sure, but I have a feeling in the future the country will look back at our HFCS-dominated grocery shelves as a dismal point in our nutritional history.

Sources:

“A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high- fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain,” Princeton University (www.princeton.edu)
“High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Liver Scarring,” MedlinePlus (www.nlm.nih.gov)