UCSF researchers have published an important paper in PLOS Biology that draws on internal documents from the US sugar industry lobby that shows that the industry deliberately suppressed research on the link between sucrose and bladder cancer and heart disease, and then deliberately sowed misinformation about the health effects of sugar, using tactics straight out of the tobacco industry's cancer-denial playbook.
The deliberate deception about science continues to this day, with the Sugar Association publishing a criticism of a study linking sugar and tumor growth, in which the association lied about its own research findings and insisted that there was no link between sugar and cancer.
The ISRF described the finding in a September 1969 internal document as "one of the first demonstrations of a biological difference between sucrose and starch fed rats." But soon after ISRF learned about these results—and shortly before the research project was complete—the group terminated funding for the project, and no findings from the work were published.
In the 1960s, scientists disagreed over whether sugar could elevate triglycerides relative to starch, and Project 259 would have bolstered the case that it could, the authors argue. What's more, terminating Project 259 echoed SRF's earlier efforts to downplay sugar's role in cardiovascular disease.
The results suggest that the current debate on the relative effects of sugar vs. starch may be rooted in more than 60 years of industry manipulation of science. Last year, the Sugar Association criticized a mouse study suggesting a link between sugar and increased tumor growth and metastasis, saying that "no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established."
Sugar industry sponsorship of germ-free rodent studies linking sucrose to hyperlipidemia and cancer: An historical analysis of internal documents
[Cristin E. Kearns, Dorie Apollonio and Stanton A. Glantz/PLOS Biology]
Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago [Medical Express]
(Image: Michael Ströck, CC-BY-SA)
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