High Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption Linked to Liver Disease

  • Researchers have studied the link between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and high-fructose corn syrup consumption.
  • They found that consuming high amounts of fructose, especially among Mexican Americans who consumed the highest amount, was linked to a higher risk of NAFLD.
  • The researchers conclude that people should avoid consuming foods high in fructose corn syrup to prevent NAFLD.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when excess fat builds up in the liver, which can lead to permanent scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis. Around 24% of adults in the United States have the condition.

NAFLD Risk Factors to understand:

  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • high BMI
  • Age
  • Hypertension
  • Waist size

Previous to research indicates that diets high in sugar from sucrose or high fructose corn syrup increase the risk of NAFLD.

Other research also suggests that the prevalence of NAFLD is highest among Hispanics compared to whites and blacks.

Exploring high-fructose corn syrup consumption and NAFLD rates could help researchers identify reasons for different risk factors among ethnic groups.

Recently, researchers analyzed the link between NAFLD and the consumption of high fructose corn syrup among different ethnicities.

They found that higher fructose intake was linked to higher levels of NAFLD and that Mexican Americans were most affected.

The researchers presented the results to Endocrine Society Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables and honey. Fructose is also found in high fructose corn syrup, which is often added to foods such as sodas and candies.

Researchers looked at data from 3,292 participants in the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES). Data from their analysis included fructose consumption, demographic factors including ethnicity, and incidence of NAFLD.

Of the participants, 31.3% were in the “moderate” fructose consumption group and 35.5% in the high consumption group.

Fructose consumption came from a variety of sources:

  • 29% baked goods, pasta and other grains
  • 28% fruit and items containing fruit
  • 16% from sweeteners, condiments and sauces
  • 16% soft drinks

A total of 48% of Mexican Americans and 44% of non-Hispanic blacks belonged to the high fructose consumption group, compared to 33% of non-Hispanic whites.

Researchers found that 70% of Mexican Americans in the high fructose intake group had NAFLD, compared to 52% of Mexican Americans in the low intake group.

The researchers further found that among all ethnic groups, those who consumed more fructose were more likely to have NAFLD.

When asked what might explain the link between high fructose corn syrup consumption and NAFLD, Dr Theodore Friedman, Ph.D.from Charles R. Drew University in Washington, D.C., the study’s presenting author, said Medical News Today:

“High fructose corn syrup may lead to NAFLD through several mechanisms. It may increase the amount of fat produced by the liver. It may also increase liver inflammation and alter the way the liver metabolizes glucose It can also increase abdominal fat which can lead to NAFLD.

Dr. Curtis K. Argoassociate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Virginia, who was not involved in the study, said:

“High fructose corn syrup likely triggers a number of inflammatory pathways possibly initiated by changes in the composition of the gut microbiome and weakening of the gut barrier integrity of the gut.”

“[This may then permit] microbes and toxins (such as endotoxins) to gain access to the portal vein circulation and lead to increased fat deposition and liver inflammation via maladaptive metabolism of fat droplets in hepatocytes – the main functional liver cells – in patients at risk. [In turn, this may then lead] to NAFLD, and perhaps the most harmful version of fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH),” he explained.

The researchers concluded that the link between high fructose intake and the development of NAFLD partly explains the racial and ethnic disparities in NAFLD.

Dr Rohit Loombadirector of the NAFLD Research Center at the University of California, San Diego, who also was not involved in the study, said DTM there are limitations to the study.

Because the findings came from epidemiological studies, the researchers only found an association and not a causal inference, Dr. Loomba explained.

Dr Argo added: ‘This study is limited because it is based on all non-invasive endpoints (rather than liver biopsy, which is the long-standing gold standard) which are imprecise in quantifying the content. in liver fat. Overall, the number of subjects represents only a small fraction of the patients who participated in the NHANES studies.

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