More experts are calling HFCS a health hazard

Posted by
August 12, 2014

Railroad tank car with HFCS

Railroad tank car with HFCS 


To listen to the Corn Refiners Association, you’d think the idea that consuming high fructose corn syrup may be hazardous to our health was something invented by Citizens for Health, the sponsoring organization of Food Identity Theft.  In fact CFH seeks to let members of the public know the facts about HFCS so they can make informed choices about whether to buy or avoid products containing it. The CRA, which represents industry, seems to find it difficult to understand this purpose.

Recently for example, the CRA alleged on its website that Citizens for Health exists for no other purpose than that of “disparaging high fructose corn syrup.”

Of course, the track record of Citizens for Health shows how utterly nonsensical that claim is.  A cursory review of the records shows that CFH has been on the front lines of the battle to promote consumer awareness of harmful food and water ingredients, the development of complementary and alternative health initiatives and support of dietary supplements for more than two decades.

That campaign to inform consumers about food ingredients has now been further advanced by Food Identity Theft, whose twice weekly blogs has been appearing for nearly three years, and has regularly discussed the potential risks posed by a variety of food additives in addition to HFCS.

(CFH accepts in-kind and financial support from organizations that agree with our viewpoints, including natural food companies like The Green Polka Dot Box, grounding shoe company Pluggz, supplement producer Wellcorps, The Sugar Association, The Foundation for Health Choice, Wise World Seminars and Wisdom films.)

We tell our readers about the alleged risks of HFCS because we (and CFH) believe that consumers are entitled to transparency about the way their food is processed so that they can make reasonable choices.  Our comments on HFCS are based on scientific research done by major universities and medical facilities – findings the CRA has itself often disparaged as “false science.”

Increasingly however, the CRA’s efforts to marginalize and discredit reporting on the health risks posed by the widespread presence of HFCS in food products are failing to resonate with consumers, who are becoming more knowledgeable about the doubts regarding this industrial sweetener.  More and more, we’re seeing prominent doctors and medical experts joining the chorus of health professionals who have become convinced that HFCS – especially in the amounts it is found in the average American diet – is one of the factors responsible for our current epidemics of obesity and diabetes, as well as other conditions that put the physical condition of Americans in jeopardy.

We believe that it is important for consumers to hear these medical voices so they can be more fully informed about the food decisions they make.

One is David Brownstein, M.D, a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine.  In a recent blog on “The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup,” Dr. Brownstein contends that “(t)he obesity epidemic we are currently facing is the direct consequence of adding HFCS to food products.”

In leading up to that conclusion, Dr. Brownstein points out the “parallel increases in soft drink intake and obesity” in the U.S over the past four decades, noting how consumption of sweetened soft drinks now averages 12 ounces per person per day, with 75 percent of adolescent boys and 62 percent of adolescent girls consuming them daily.

HFCS the ‘main villain’

“So what’s wrong with soft drinks?” he asks. “The main villain is high fructose corn syrup,” the cheap sweetening agent he says is metabolized by the body in a far different way than was the sugar, or sucrose, it has replaced in soda and many other food products.

With sucrose, Dr. Brownstein explains, the fructose and glucose are bound together in units called disaccharides, which cause the pancreas to release insulin and glucose to be converted into energy. HFCS, by contrast, not only contains more fructose than sugar, but uses unbonded single molecules called monosaccharides, which make it difficult for the body to use HFCS as an energy source and cause it to store excess fat. In addition, the failure of HFCS to stimulate the appetite control hormones insulin and leptin results in people having an “unrestrained appetite.”

Part of the problem, Dr. Brownstein adds, is that HFCS is such a recent addition to our diet. “Human beings simply don’t have the tools to convert HFCS into usable energy,” he contends.  “Nevertheless, the food industry was more than happy to save money adding HFCS to as many products as possible.

Dr. Al Sears, sounds a similar alarm about HFCS being a “dangerous, unnatural substance.” Dr. Sears, a highly credentialed M.D., board-certified clinical nutrition specialist, ACE-certified fitness trainer and the founder of the Center for Health and Wellness, a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging facility in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. tells how his patients often believe that fructose is fine, since it’s found naturally in fruit. “But natural fructose is locked inside the fiber of fruit. That means it absorbs into your bloodstream slowly, giving your liver time to release it gradually as glucose, the sugar your body uses for energy.” HFCS, by contrast, “floods your bloodstream, overwhelming your liver’s processing capacity.” In fact, he noted, animals fed a diet high in HFCS suffer severe cirrhosis of the liver, which involves scarring and tissue death.

Dr. Sears also points to research showing “a link between refined fructose and cancer,” especially pancreatic cancer. (In 2010, a team of UCLA cancer researchers concluded that pancreatic cancers use fructose to activate a key cellular pathway that drives cell division, helping the cancer to grow more quickly and that “cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation.”)

“Anything with cane sugar is going to be better than something with HFCS. Your body is made to be able to handle foods with natural sugar. Just help your body out by choosing foods that, if they have sugar, are low on the glycemic index,” he advises.

So don’t just take our word for it when we say that HFCS is an ingredient you should be fully informed about before you consume it.