High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Liver Scarring

March 18, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- High fructose corn syrup, which is linked to obesity, may also be harmful to the liver, according to Duke University Medical Center research.

“We found that increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup was associated with scarring in the liver, or fibrosis, among patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),” said Manal Abdelmalek, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology at Duke University Medical Center.

Her team of researchers at Duke, one of eight clinical centers in the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network, looked at 427 adults enrolled in the network. They analyzed dietary questionnaires collected within three months of the adults’ liver biopsies to determine their high fructose corn syrup intake and its association with liver scarring.

The researchers found only 19 percent of adults with NAFLD reported no intake of fructose-containing beverages, while 52 percent consumed between one and six servings a week and 29 percent consumed fructose-containing beverages on a daily basis.

An increase in consumption of fructose appeared to be correlated to increased in patients with NAFLD.

“We have identified an environmental risk factor that may contribute to the metabolic syndrome of and the complications of the metabolic syndrome, including liver injury,” Abdelmalek said.

Research Abdelmalek published in the Journal of Hepatology in 2008 showed that, within a small subset of patients, high fructose corn syrup was associated with NAFLD. Her latest research, published online in Hepatology, goes one step further and links high fructose corn syrup to the progression of liver injury.

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is present in 30 percent of adults in the United States,” Abdelmalek said. “Although only a minority of patients progress to cirrhosis, such patients are at increased risk for , , and the need for liver transplant,” she explained.

“Unfortunately, there is no therapy for non-alcoholic ,” she said. “My hope is to see if we can find a factor, such as increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup, which, if modified, can decrease the risk of liver disease.”

The idea is similar to what cardiologists have done for heart patients, Abdelmalek explained. They discovered that high-fat diets are bad for your heart, so they have promoted low-fat diets to decrease the risk of heart disease, she said.

“We haven’t made it that far with liver disease yet,” Abdelmalek said. “We know that alcohol is not good for your liver, and therefore encourage patients to limit alcohol consumption. But what do you do when people have non-alcoholic liver disease?”

“Our findings suggest that we may need to go back to healthier diets that are more holistic,” Abdelmalek said. “High fructose corn syrup, which is predominately in soft-drinks and processed foods, may not be as benign as we previously thought.”

The consumption of fructose has increased exponentially since the early 1970s, and with this rise, an increase in obesity and complications of obesity have been observed, Abdelmalek said.

“There is an increasing amount of data that suggests high fructose corn syrup is fueling the fire of the obesity epidemic, but until now no one has ever suggested that it contributes to liver disease and/or liver injury.” Abdelmalek said the next step is more studies looking at the mechanisms of .

“We need to do formal studies that evaluate the influence of limiting or completely discontinuing from one’s diet and see if there are health benefits from doing so,” she said.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VOR
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2010
Its hilarous that there's a link to sweetsurprise.com- 'pushers' of HFCS. But its
depressing and deplorable that they continue to claim it's safe and nutritious. They should be locked up. Its among the absolutely junkiest 'food' there is. Its practically poison.
Akin to making similar claims about booze. Yes booze. Even though booze is more poisonous, people consume MUCH more HFCS. You can wreck you liver with either.
cornrefiner
Mar 19, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.