The medical profession has overlooked some major pathological effects of fructose consumption and its effects on liver function. Regardless of whether or not a person gains weight from it, consuming fructose was recently shown by researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina to cause hepatic steatosis, a non-alcoholic form of fatty liver disease that in some patients can lead to cirrhosis.
Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), their study found that, by itself, fructose can trigger rapid liver damage even when all other factors remain equal. In other words, a relatively skinny person can sustain extensive liver damage from fructose consumption, even if he or she doesn’t become obese from it. Fructose consumers also have an exceptional propensity toward developing diabetes, according to the data.
“Is a calorie a calorie? Are they all created equal? Based on this study, we would say not,” said Kylie Kavanagh, D.V.M., an assistant professor of pathology and comparative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and lead author of the study. “What surprised us the most was how quickly the liver was affected and how extensive the damage was, especially without weight gain as a factor.”
For their research, scientists gave two groups of monkeys an all-you-can-eat buffet for seven years. The target group was given access to low-fat foods with added fructose, while the control group was given access only to low-fat, low-fructose foods. All other factors remained equal, and the animals were given equal access to whatever quantities of food they desired.
During the evaluative period, monkeys in the fructose group were observed to gain about 50 percent more weight than the control group. They also developed diabetes at three times the rate of the control group as well as severe cases of hepatic steatosis that were clearly unique to fructose consumption.
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