Oct 22, 2013

Fructose: the poison index | fructose concentration enough to do major arterial and pancreatic damage

A ruling on fructose boosts the powerful sugar industry, either by incompetence or collusion, but is based on pseudoscience
Fructose Lustig
Fizzy drinks can have a 'serum fructose concentration of six micromolar, enough to do major arterial and pancreatic damage'. Photograph: Nathalie Louvel/Getty Images

The battle over the compound fructose now reaches new levels of obfuscation. The food industry is a strong – and loud, and rich – proponent, hard to ignore. The European Food and Safety Agency has just weighed in, in favour of the substitution of sucrose (table sugar: a disaccharide composed of the monosaccharides glucose and fructose) with fructose alone, the sweeter of the two – even to the point of allowing health claims for fructose on the packaging of processed foods.

And yet the scientific data on fructose says it is one of the most egregious components of the western diet, directly contributing to heart disease and diabetes, and associated with cancer and dementia. Nature magazine has just published a scathing indictment of fructose by Dr Lewis Cantley, one of the US's leading cancer researchers. But the EFSA says it sees no harm, justifying its stance on the basis that fructose has a lower glycaemic index than glucose