A couple of days ago there was a paper published online in PLOS Biology that outlined how the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) doubled down on misleading consumers by stopping a 1970 study that withheld information the microbiome may be an important factor in sugar-caused high triglyceride levels and that sucrose (sugar) consumption, compared to starch (like potatoes, bread, etc.), might be associated with bladder cancer!
It seems Big Sugar underwrote research at the University of Birmingham (England) to study rat diets, gut microbiota, and blood lipids (triglycerides) in the late 60s. Called Project 259, the rat research inconveniently found that sugar raised triglyceride levels and that it could be a human carcinogen.
This was at the same time that another suspected carcinogen, cyclamate, was being taken out of diet drinks and foods. Sugar didn’t want to be branded as a cancer-causer–even though 2014 research found it feeds cancer cells preferentially–so the sugar industry stopped Project 259 before it was completed. More recent research shows that high insulin levels and growth factors caused by sugar ingestion influence cancer cell growth the most, as well as increasing the risk of other chronic diseases.
Earlier, some of the same researchers published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association describing how the sugar industry secretly funded a 1967 review in the New England Journal of Medicine that failed to mention how a rat study involving sugar showed increased cardiovascular disease and lipid (fat) levels in the blood and instead put the blame on dietary fats and cholesterol, leading to the whole fat scare and atrocities like SnackWells(R) that were low-fat, but full of sugar.
The article was very interesting to me, possibly because before I went back to school to be a nurse and then nurse practitioner, I worked in public relations for almost 20 years and was a member of the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America. I think it would be interesting to anyone who likes to read history, though. It certainly does not read like a typical medical research study.
Study adds to a wide body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science
Obviously, fake news wasn’t invented in the last presidential campaign. The sugar industry was in it up to their eyeballs way back when the Green Bay Packers were playing in the first SuperBowl and the Israelis and Palestinians fought the six-day long Yom Kippur War. But they weren’t the only ones.
Industries wanting influence over state and federal regulations have a history of funding research resulting in industry-favorable interpretations of controversial evidence related to health effects of smoking, therapeutic effects of pharmaceutical drugs, the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and weight gain or obesity, and the causes of climate change (Oreskes N, Conway EM. Merchants of doubt. New York: Bloomsbury Press; 2010), among other issues.
And let’s not forget about one of the largest influencers of the USDA, FDA and Congress: Monsanto and its hit herbicide, RoundUp(R), also called glyphosate. I’ll get back to this in a later blog. There’s just too much of a horror story with them to mix this up with sugar’s withholding and also manipulating unfavorable data. The deliberate, profit-lead poisoning of America’s food supply by both the raw material manufacturers (agri-business) and consumer product manufacturers (General Foods, Kraft) really frosts me. Unfortunately, duplicity and data destruction goes on in the medical industry, too. And much of all this fakery and selective data selection is the brainchildren of public relations execs like I used to be.
I’ll get into all that later.