Just as the tobacco industry aimed to quash evidence of health risks linked to smoking, a new paper claims the Sugar Research Foundation decades ago suppressed research on the sugar's negative effects. The assertion comes via University of California at San Francisco researchers who reviewed internal sugar industry documents, per a release. NPR explains what they say they found: In 1968, the SRF funded a researcher's study that looked at the impact a high-sugar (versus starch) diet had on lab rats. The initial findings pointed to an increase in their triglyceride (that's a fat in your blood) levels and noted elevated levels of an enzyme linked to bladder cancer in their urine. The researcher shared initial findings, and SRF opted not to fund the previously authorized three-month extension needed to finish the research.
"Had this information been made public, there would have been a lot more research scrutiny of sugar," says paper author Cristin Kearns. She suspects more potential manipulation as "ISRF sponsored more than 300 research projects between 1943 and 1972, and its successor organizations continue to fund research," she tells the Guardian. But one successor, the Sugar Association, argues the research published in PLOS Biology is only a "collection of speculations and assumptions." It says the 1968 study was ended because it was delayed, over budget, and occurred during "organizational restructuring" in which the SRF became the International Sugar Research Foundation. "There were plans to continue the study with funding from the British Nutrition Foundation, but, for reasons unbeknown to us, this did not occur." (Read more sugar stories.)