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Consumption of high fructose corn syrup is associated with liver damage

By Idris Jul 12, 2022
Scientists looked into the relationship between consumption of high fructose corn syrup and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 

When too much fat accumulates in the liver, it can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can result in cirrhosis, a chronic scarring of the liver. Around 24%Trusted Source of adults in the U.S. have the condition.

Risk factors for NAFLD Include :

  1. Low HDL cholesterol
  2. Type 2 diabetes
  3. Age
  4. Hypertension
  5. Waist circumference

A natural sugar called fructose can be found in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables, and honey. High fructose corn syrup, which is frequently added to foods like sodas and candy, also contains it. In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2017–2018, 3,292 participants’ data were analysed. Consumption of fructose, demographic details, including ethnicity, and the prevalence of NAFLD were all included in the analysis.

The participants were divided into two consumption groups: 31.3 percent consumed “moderate” amounts, while 35.5 percent consumed large amounts. In comparison to 33 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, 48 percent of Mexican Americans and 44 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks consumed significant amounts of fructose. In the high fructose consumption group, 70% of Mexican Americans developed NAFLD, compared to 52% in the low consumption group. The researchers also discovered that people of all ethnicities who consumed more sugar had greater rates of NAFLD.

When asked what might explain the link between high fructose corn syrup consumption and NAFLD, Dr. Theodore Friedman, Ph.D., of Charles R. Drew University in Washington, D.C., the presenting author of the study, told Medical News Today that NAFLD may result from high fructose corn syrup in a number of ways. It may boost the liver’s capacity to produce fat. Additionally, it can alter how the liver metabolises glucose and worsen liver inflammation. It may also lead to an increase in belly fat, which may cause NAFLD.

Dr. Curtis K. Argo, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Virginia, who was not involved in the study, said: “High fructose corn syrup likely sets off several inflammatory pathways possibly initiated by changes in the gut microbiome composition and weakening of the integrity of the gut’s intestinal barrier.”

Limitations to the study :

  1. The findings came from epidemiologic studies, the researchers only found an association and not causal inference
  2. It’s based on all noninvasive parameters (rather than liver biopsy, which is the longstanding gold standard) that are imprecise in quantifying liver fat content. Overall, the number of subjects is only a small fraction of the patients who participated in the NHANES studies.

By Idris

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