The sugar industry’s biggest lie has been caught, thanks to the release of historical documents by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.
To find out the impact of sugar on cardiovascular diseases, the sugar industry carried out tests on rats in the 1960s. And when the initial results were not favourable, they killed the study, reported The New York Times.
The documents were first published in the journal PLOS Biology.
The documents show that in 1968, a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, funded a research project on animals to shed light on the connection between sugar and the health of the heart. It was called ‘Project 259.’
The research indicated that sugar might not only promote heart diseases, but also bladder cancer.
Two groups of rats were tested for the project. While one group was fed a diet high in sucrose, or table sugar, the other group consumed starch instead.
Early results suggested that a high-sugar diet could elevate triglycerides, increasing the risk of heart diseases. Another finding was even more disturbing – the rats which were fed sucrose, the main component of cane sugar, had produced high levels of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which three other studies published around the time had associated with bladder cancer.
At the time the study was commissioned, the sugar industry was under pressure to de-link sugar from heart diseases. In documents released earlier, it was revealed how the sugar industry in 1967 had bribed two influential Harvard scientists to shift the blame of heart disease from sugar to saturated fat.
Even though the documents are nearly 50 years old, they are important.
This is continuing to build the case that the sugar industry has a long history of manipulating science.Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at UCSF, to NYT
This brings back instances of how the tobacco industry lied about the impact of tobacco or how it tried to debunk such studies.
It also brings into question industry led studies and their reliability.
(With inputs from The New York Times)