High fructose corn syrup helps cause intestinal tumor growth


Kevin Valdez | The Ticker

Angelica Tejada, Opinions Editor

Sugary drinks with high fructose corn syrup are now not only associated with obesity but tumor growth as well. In a recent study published in Science magazine by researchers Jihye Yun and Marcus Goncalves at Baylor College of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medicine, it was found that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup enhances the formation of tumors.

High fructose syrup corn syrup was brought into the food and beverage industry in the 1970s as an alternative to sucrose, common table sugar, according to The National Center for Biotechnology.

Ever since then, high fructose corn syrup was commonly used in food products such as soda, candy, breads and juice. As more people began to consume high fructose corn syrup on a daily basis, many studies proved it to be associated with increasing obesity rates. Simultaneously with the increase of obesity rates, the rates of colorectal cancer also increased.

The researchers wanted to make the connection between sugary drinks and increasing rates of cancer among young adults clearer. In order to do this, the researchers mimicked sugar-sweetened beverages consumption “in a genetically engineered mouse model of intestinal tumorigenesis,” as the report published to Science states.

In this model the adenomatous polyposis coli, APC, gene was removed, the APC gene controls the APC protein, which acts as a tumor suppressor, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. With the APC gene removed, polyps, early stage tumors, begin to grow.

Utilizing this mouse model, the researchers had the mice drink sugar-sweetened water that had 25 percent high fructose corn syrup at their own will.

The mice drinking at their own will resulted in them gaining weight at a quick rate in only a month. Due to the mice gaining weight at such a rapid speed, the researchers moderated the dosage of the sugar-sweetened water. The mice were now given the sugar-sweetened water orally through a syringe once a day.

Two months into this method, the mice did not become obese. Tumors were developed and were larger than those of mice that consumed the water that wasn’t sugar-sweetened.

High-fructose corn syrup used in sugary drinks can cause an increase in tumor growth for the mice that had polyps in the intestines. The research was not conducted with human subjects. However, the results show that the food and drink products consumed daily with high fructose corn syrup can lead to cancer.

Dr. Lewis Cantley, corresponding author, former mentor of Yun and professor of cancer biology in medicine and director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, said that the results give a possible reason for why the increased intake of “foods with high sugar content over the past 30 years is correlating with an increase in colorectal cancers in 25- to 50-year-olds,” according to the Baylor College of Medicine. Furthermore, after the consumption of the sugary drinks, the levels of fructose and glucose in the colon and blood rose.

These results are alarming and set the tone to having something done in order to keep more people from being at risk of getting cancer due to the consumption of these sugary drinks. College students, specifically Baruch College students, have easy access to drinks with high fructose corn syrup right at the vending machines on every floor.

Future policies put into place to combat this issue should first take the chance to inform every individual. In order to make a difference the change has to begin with the individual consuming less of the high fructose corn syrup and being supported with alternatives.

After all, it turns out that even the sweetest things in life can turn sour.