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sugar causes coronary heart disease denied by industry study in NEJM 1965

Three points about the contents of the article below which shows how the sugar industry’s association functioned to deflect an association of harm with their product through their funding of tobacco science.  One is that this is the business model of corporations which act often through their trade organizations sometimes, sometimes directly, and sometimes through government to generate tobacco science for their ends.  Two that other industries were also involved, in particular the food manufacturers who wanted to promote the cheaper polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated fats which they use in their manufactured foods and to deflect concerns of their promotion of their sugar added products.  Also tobacco who didn’t want to add to cancer tobacco’s role in cardiovascular disease, which for a pack-a-day smoker causes more deaths than from cancer.  And of course pharma, which had been promoting heart healthy their cholesterol lowering drugs since at least the mid 50’s.   And third, that our government supports the industries they regulate.  Thus the findings of the McGovern Commission on the causes of cardiovascular disease which failed to implicate tobacco and sugar, is just another example of this relationship, along with the response of the FDA in their dietary guidelines. 


November 2016

Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease ResearchA Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents

JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(11):1680-1685. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5394


Early warning signals of the coronary heart disease (CHD) risk of sugar (sucrose) emerged in the 1950s. We examined Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) internal documents, historical reports, and statements relevant to early debates about the dietary causes of CHD and assembled findings chronologically into a narrative case study. The SRF sponsored its first CHD research project in 1965, a literature review published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which singled out fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of CHD and downplayed evidence that sucrose consumption was also a risk factor. The SRF set the review’s objective, contributed articles for inclusion, and received drafts. The SRF’s funding and role was not disclosed. Together with other recent analyses of sugar industry documents, our findings suggest the industry sponsored a research program in the 1960s and 1970s that successfully cast doubt about the hazards of sucrose while promoting fat as the dietary culprit in CHD. Policymaking committees should consider giving less weight to food industry–funded studies and include mechanistic and animal studies as well as studies appraising the effect of added sugars on multiple CHD biomarkers and disease development.

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