Consumption of high fructose corn syrup has been linked to liver disease

  • Researchers looked into the link between high fructose corn syrup consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • They discovered that eating a lot of fructose, particularly among Mexican Americans who ate the most, was connected to a higher risk of NAFLD.
  • To prevent NAFLD, experts recommend that consumers avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup

When an excess of fat builds up in the liver, it is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and it can develop to cirrhosis, or chronic scarring of the liver. In the United States, about 24% of adults have the disease.

The following are some of the risk factors for NAFLD:

  • Age
  • Hypertension
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Waist circumference
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High BMI

According to previous study, diets high in sugar from sucrose or high fructose corn syrup enhance the risk of NAFLD.

According to other studies, Hispanics have the highest prevalence of NAFLD compared to Whites and Blacks.

Investigating the relationship between high-fructose corn syrup consumption and NAFLD rates could aid researchers in determining the causes of various risk factors among ethnic groups.

Researchers recently looked into the link between NAFLD and high-fructose corn syrup consumption among various ethnic groups.

They discovered that higher fructose intake was connected to an increased risk of NAFLD, with Mexican Americans being the most affected.

The findings were presented at the annual conference of the Endocrine Society in Atlanta, Georgia.

Analyzing data

Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar that can be found in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables, and honey. High fructose corn syrup, which is commonly used in foods like sodas and candy, contains fructose as well.

Researchers looked at data from 3,292 people who took part in the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They looked at fructose consumption, demographic characteristics such ethnicity, and the prevalence of NAFLD.

31.3 percent of the individuals were in the “moderate” fructose consumption group, whereas 35.5 percent were in the “high” fructose consumption group.

Fructose was consumed in a variety of ways:

  • 29% from baked goods, pasta, and other grains
  • 28% from fruits and items containing fruit
  • 16% from sweeteners, condiments, and sauces
  • 16% from sodas\

High fructose consumption was found in 48 percent of Mexican Americans and 44 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks, compared to 33 percent of non-Hispanic Whites.

The researchers discovered that 70 percent of Mexican Americans who consumed high fructose developed NAFLD, compared to 52 percent of Mexican Americans who consumed low fructose.

The researchers also discovered that people of all ethnic groups who consumed more sugar were more likely to develop NAFLD.

Underlying mechanisms

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

“There are various routes through which high fructose corn syrup might cause NAFLD. It has the potential to enhance the quantity of fat produced by the liver. It can also cause inflammation in the liver and alter how glucose is metabolized by the liver. It may also contribute to an increase in belly fat, which may lead to NAFLD.”

Dr. Curtis K. Argo, an associate professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Medicine who was not involved in the research, said:

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

“[This] may then allow microorganisms and poisons (such as endotoxins) to gain access to portal vein circulation, resulting in increased fat deposition and liver inflammation in at-risk patients through maladaptive fat droplet metabolism in hepatocytes—the main functioning liver cells.” “As a result, NAFLD may develop, as well as the more dangerous form of fatty liver, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH),” he noted.

The researchers came to the conclusion that the association between high fructose consumption and the development of NAFLD accounts for some of the racial and ethnic differences in NAFLD.

The study has limitations, according to Dr. Rohit Loomba, director of the NAFLD Research Center at the University of California San Diego, who was also not engaged in the study.

Dr. Loomba stated that because the findings were from epidemiology studies, the researchers were only able to draw an association rather than a causal inference.

“This study is restricted by the fact that it is based on all noninvasive indicators (rather than liver biopsy, which has long been the gold standard) that are imprecise in estimating hepatic fat level,” Dr. Argo continued. The number of subjects is a minor proportion of the total number of patients who took part in the NHANES research.”

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