(NaturalNews) Not only is sugar the primary source of excess calories in the United States, but the latest research also shows that cancer cells lap up high-fructose corn syrup, adding yet another reason to avoid it.
A couple of years ago, researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles found that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and reproduce, debunking earlier assumptions that all sugars were the same.
Tumor cells that were fed glucose and fructose used those sugars in two different ways, the research team said.
'Major significance for cancer patients'
Their findings, which were published in the journal Cancer Research, could help explain earlier studies that have linked ingestion of fructose with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
"These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation," Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote in 2010.
"They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth," he said.
Americans, much more than people in most other industrialized nations, consume an incredible amount of fructose, mainly high fructose corn syrup, which is a mix of fructose and glucose used largely in sodas, bread and a host of other processed foods.
Incredibly, there is still no consensus among politicians, industry experts and some healthcare specialists over whether high fructose corn syrup and other sugary ingredients increase the nation's collective belt line (though Natural News readers and most reasonable people who don't grow corn for a living already know the answer to that "debate"). That's likely why there hasn't been more public education about the consequences of consuming fructose-heavy, processed foods.
Tumor cells thrive on all sugars
That said, some groups know the truth and have tried to speak it loudly. The American Heart Association, for example, says too much sugar of any kind will not only bust your belt but increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
And a number of states, including New York and California, have considered levying a tax on sugary sodas to help pay for patients suffering from obesity-related diseases and who are covered under government health insurance programs. But these taxes have been successfully opposed, for the most part, with the help of millions of dollars in lobbying money from interest groups who say sugar is sugar.
Heaney's team found otherwise, Reuters reported. During trials, they grew pancreatic cancer cells and fed them both glucose and fructose.
The tumor cells thrived on both kinds of sugars but proliferated with fructose.
"Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different," the team wrote.
"I think this paper has a lot of public health implications. Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back on the amount of high fructose corn syrup in our diets," Heaney said in a statement.
Consumption of high fructose grew rapidly in the U.S. - by 1,000 percent - between 1970 and 1990, about the time the obesity epidemic began in earnest.
History of disease linked to sugary diets
High fructose corn syrup has also been linked to other medical conditions and diseases:
-- A diet high in corn syrup causes the body to produce excess uric acid, which worsens gout - a condition caused by high levels of uric acid - according to a study published in the March 2012 Journal of Nutrition.
-- Researchers at the Duke University in North Carolina said high fructose consumption can worsen non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by "depleting their store of critically important molecules called ATP, which provide liver cells (and other body cells) energy for important cellular processes, including metabolism," Science Daily reported.
-- A study published in the Journal of Nephrology found that ingestion of "dietary fructose" worsens kidney disease by inhibiting intestinal calcium absorption and inducing vitamin D deficiency.