New evidence has shown that the sugar industry suppressed scientific research that linked sugar to heart disease and bladder cancer in rats.
The Sugar Research Foundation, the group that funded the studies, cut the project short and decided not to publish the results. Nutritionists warn that sugar, not fat, is responsible for the majority of the problems in our modern diets.
For decades, sugar lobbyists have been trying to downplay studies that link sugar to cancer. For example, when a study that was carried out last year found that mice on sugar-heavy diets were more likely to develop breast cancer, the Sugar Association, one of the largest sugar lobbying groups in America, called it “sensationalized.” They insist that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established.”
However, doctors and researchers believe that the sugar industry may be intentionally preventing research about the dangers of sugar from getting published.
A new study which has been published in the journal PLOS Biology reveals how the Sugar Association worked to suppress scientific findings on the harmful effects of table sugar on rodents nearly five decades ago.
The report details the results of two unpublished studies, known as Project 259, which were funded by the sugar lobby back in the late 1960s. Both studies involved research on the effects of feeding sugar to rats.
In the first study, one group of rats was fed a balanced diet of beans, cereal bars, fish, and yeast, while another group was given a high-sugar diet. The research concluded that the sugar eaters were at a higher risk of strokes, heart disease, heart attacks, and had a higher than normal level of fat (triglycerides) in their blood.
The second study compared sugar-fed rats with starch-fed rats, and found that the sugar-eating rodents were more likely to have elevated levels of an enzyme associated with bladder cancer in humans.
However, none of the above research saw the light of day. The Sugar Research Foundation cut the projects short and didn’t publish any findings.
The researchers for this new study, who hail from the University of California, wrote in their report that “our study contributes to a wider body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science.”
However, the Sugar Association strongly denied that allegation, saying that the new study is just “a collection of speculations and assumptions about events that happened nearly five decades ago, conducted by a group of researchers and funded by individuals and organizations that are known critics of the sugar industry.”
According to the Sugar Association, the study in question was terminated “for three reasons, none of which involved potential research findings: the study was significantly delayed; it was consequently over budget, and the delay overlapped with an organizational restructuring.”
However, this is not the first time that we’ve learned that “big sugar” has gotten in the way of science. For example, last year, some of the same researchers found that the Sugar Research Foundation – the former name of the Sugar Association – paid off three scientists in 1967 to make sugar seem healthier and suggest that fat was actually the problem.
Decades of research on sugar since Project 259 have linked sugar consumption to a glut of serious health problems, including kidney disease, high cholesterol, and heart disease, to name but a few. Recent research also suggests that sugar may play a role in tumor growth, but scientists don’t think it makes cancer grow quicker, and still aren’t 100% certain whether sugar consumption is linked to cancer formation.
After many years of fueling up on high-sugar, low fat foods, consumers are finally becoming wise to the problems with sugar that have been hidden for so many years. And the US Food and Drug Administration is too – by 2021, all nutritional labels on food will have to include the percentage daily value of added sugars for the first time, while the “calories from fat” column will be scrubbed.