As many as 30 percent of adult Americans have Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) also called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), possibly as a result of consuming too many foods and beverages containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Whatever you call it, this disorder can cause scarring and hardening of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Because of rising rates of obesity, NAFLD has become increasingly common. The newly-identified link to HFCS comes from a study at Duke University Medical Center. Researchers looked at dietary questionnaires completed by 427 adults with NAFLD. Only 19 percent of these patients reported no consumption of fructose containing beverages; 52 percent consumed between one and six drinks per week; and 29 percent consumed beverages that contained HFCS daily. There's no treatment for NAFLD - all you can do is lose weight and lower your triglycerides if they're elevated. The Duke study's findings may suggest another strategy - "healthier diets that are more holistic," said study leader Manal Abdelmalek, M.D., MPH - and less HFCS.
My take? High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is definitely bad for you. I believe that it is a major driver of the obesity epidemic, and there's an environmental impact to consider. Journalist and agriculture industry critic Michael Pollen notes that growing all the corn needed for HFCS depletes soil nutrients, which increases the need for pesticides and fertilizer. Giving up products containing HFCS will benefit your health, help control your weight, and if enough people get the message, protect the planet as well.