Tested on humans

By August 31, 2008Uncategorized

If fructose were a new drug would it be certified as safe for use by humans?  It’s a thought that occurred to me more than once as I dug into the history of fructose studies (usually involving rodents).

Intentionally feeding people fructose to see if it kills them may be detrimental to the wealth of researchers, which is why very few human trials have been successfully concluded.  In Sweet Poison I mention one study which had to be abandoned after several of the recipients developed dangerous heart conditions.  After that little adventure, researchers have preferred to stick to subjects who don’t have lawyers (such as mice and cats).
But a wave of courage has engulfed some brave scientists this year and a couple of new human trials are seeing the light of day.  The June edition of the Journal of Nutrition reported on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas this year which revealed “the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose.”  Admittedly the study only involved six (brave) volunteers but the results clearly support the very many rodent studies that ended in the same place.
The 28 June issue of New Scientist reports that Peter Havel at the University of California had more luck on the volunteer front.  He persuaded 33 overweight and obese people to try a 10 week diet which was either 25% fructose or 25% glucose.   The poor souls on the fructose diet ended up with increased (1.5kg) tummy fat, higher fatty triglycerides (which leads to heart disease) and 20% higher insulin resistance (which leads to to Type II Diabetes).  None of this happened to the group on glucose. 
Interestingly, Dr Havel’s study was paid for by PepsiCo who declared (after receiving the results) … “This is a very interesting and important study, but it does not reflect a real-world situation nor is it applicable to PepsiCo since pure fructose is not an ingredient in any of our food and beverage products.” hmmm … well I guess strictly that’s true …

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