Fructose is in the news again. The notorious sweetener has been linked to pancreatic cancer this time, through a disturbing study out of the University of California Los Angeles. Researchers at UCLA have discovered that not all sugar is equal when it comes to feeding the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. In their study published last month in Cancer Research, Dr. Anthony Heaney’s team found that fructose added to the cancer cells was metabolized differently from added glucose. What’s more, fructose sped the proliferation of the cells.
Europeans have long followed the mantra that “sugar feeds cancer.” Perhaps where fructose is concerned they are right. Curiously, glucose added to the tumor cells wasn’t used the same way. While the cancer cells thrived on both sources of sugar, the fructose in particular fed their growth.
What are sources of fructose?
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is comprised of a mixture of glucose and fructose. The percentage varies depending upon the intended use, but most soft drinks (the number one source of calories in the United States) use HFCS containing 55% fructose. HFCS is also found in many baked goods, condiments, chocolate milk, flavored yogurt, breakfast cereals and other packaged foods. It’s everywhere.
- Table Sugar. Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. We end up eating a good deal of our daily fructose from sweets.
- Fruits and Vegetables. Yes, fructose is the “fruit sugar,” but you need to eat quite a bit of fruit to obtain the same amount of fructose found in one soda or a couple of cookies. Dr. Mercola provides a handy chart (scroll down) that shows the amount of fructose found in different fruits. He suggests we keep our total daily fructose consumption under 25 grams per day. Unless I have a hankering for a peck of peaches, I’m not too worried about eating some daily fruit. But, Dr. Mercola points out another interesting fact about fructose metabolism. Glucose (the other half of table sugar) actually helps us to absorb more fructose!
The Corn Refiners Association is playing the name game. Check out CornSugar.com to see why they hope to change “High Fructose Corn Syrup” to “Corn Sugar.” Hmmm. Maybe no one will know there’s any fructose in there that way.
Have you seen my other posts about high fructose corn syrup?
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1) “Fructose Induces Transketolase Flux to Promote Pancreatic Cancer Growth,” Haibo Liu, Danshan Huang, David L. McArthur, Laszlo G. Boros, Nicholas Nissen, and Anthony P. Heaney, Cancer Res, August 1, 2010 70:6368-6376.
2) Cancer cells slurp up fructose, U.S. study finds, by Maggie Fox (Reuters), August 2, 2010.
3) This Common Food Ingredient is as Addictive as Cocaine? by Dr. Joseph Mercola, March 13, 2010.
Photo Credit: chelseacharliwhite on flickr