When a scientific study published last year concluded that mice on sugar-heavy diets were at greater risk of breast cancer, the Sugar Association said it was “sensationalized.” One of the biggest sugar lobbying groups in the US, the association insisted that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established,” reported Business Insider
But in truth, a link could have been established nearly 50 years ago. According to a new study in the journal PLOS Biology
, rat experiments performed in the 1960s linked high-sugar diets to elevated risks of heart conditions and bladder cancer.
The experiments, known collectively as project 259, were funded by the Sugar Association, which was then known as the Sugar Research Foundation. It cut the studies short and didn’t publish any of the results.
“Our study contributes to a wider body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science,” wrote the authors of the PLOS Biology report.
In response, the Sugar Association called the new study “a collection of speculations and assumptions about events that happened nearly five decades ago, conducted by a group of researchers and funded by individuals and organizations that are known critics of the sugar industry.”
Claiming it reviewed its research archives, the association said that the study was ended prematurely because it was delayed, which caused it to go over budget and “overlap with an organizational restructuring.”
The association has been accused of quashing research findings before. In another study last year, some of the same researchers found that the Sugar Research Foundation paid off three Harvard scientists in 1967 to deflect attention from the unhealthy effects of sugar by suggesting that fat was the culprit.
In the decades since Project 259, other studies have tied sugar consumption to a host of serious health issues, including high cholesterol, heart disease, and kidney disease. Recent research also suggests that sugar plays a part in tumour growth, though scientists are still unsure whether it causes cancer formation.
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For a long time, many modern illnesses have been blamed on fat-rich diets. But as it turns out, a variety of health conditions could be correlated to sugar — and the sugar industry didn’t want people to know.