In 1968 the sugar industry launched “Project 259” a study conducted by a top scientist at the University of Birmingham. However when the preliminary findings of the study began to reveal that diets high in sugar were associated not only with much higher rates of heart disease, but even cancer, the sugar companies canceled their funding, terminating further research and ensuring that the results would never be published.
Despite the efforts of the Sugar Industry to keep the research buried however, the details of “Project 259” were recently uncovered by a team of medical researchers at the University of California San Francisco, while reviewing historical documents related to their own research. And now that the details have come to light the online Journal of Biology PLOS Biology has decided to publish them as part of their most current online issue.
Now what the Sugar Industry has known for the last 50 years and the rest of us have strongly suspected, that diets high in sugar are indeed dangerous with a wide ranging number of adverse health effects, should give even more weight to the arguments against sugar that many health related organizations and churches like the Seventh Day Adventist Church have been making for years. It will also be interesting to see how the public responds. But with the stranglehold that sugar now has on the American diet, we probably shouldn’t be expecting much more than a dent.
What follows is the Abstract from the journal article, the full article can be read by following the “Continue Reading” link at the bottom of the page.
In 1965, the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) secretly funded a review in the New England Journal of Medicine that discounted evidence linking sucrose consumption to blood lipid levels and hence coronary heart disease (CHD). SRF subsequently funded animal research to evaluate sucrose’s CHD risks. The objective of this study was to examine the planning, funding, and internal evaluation of an SRF-funded research project titled “Project 259: Dietary Carbohydrate and Blood Lipids in Germ-Free Rats,” led by Dr. W.F.R. Pover at the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom, between 1967 and 1971. A narrative case study method was used to assess SRF Project 259 from 1967 to 1971 based on sugar industry internal documents. Project 259 found a statistically significant decrease in serum triglycerides in germ-free rats fed a high sugar diet compared to conventional rats fed a basic PRM diet (a pelleted diet containing cereal meals, soybean meals, whitefish meal, and dried yeast, fortified with a balanced vitamin supplement and trace element mixture). The results suggested to SRF that gut microbiota have a causal role in carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia. A study comparing conventional rats fed a high-sugar diet to those fed a high-starch diet suggested that sucrose consumption might be associated with elevated levels of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme previously associated with bladder cancer in humans. SRF terminated Project 259 without publishing the results. The sugar industry did not disclose evidence of harm from animal studies that would have (1) strengthened the case that the CHD risk of sucrose is greater than starch and (2) caused sucrose to be scrutinized as a potential carcinogen. The influence of the gut microbiota in the differential effects of sucrose and starch on blood lipids, as well as the influence of carbohydrate quality on beta-glucuronidase and cancer activity, deserve further scrutiny.