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Fructose Not So Sweet for Blood Pressure, Kidneys


Fructose, including high fructose corn syrup, has been implicated in a number of health problems, including obesity and gout. Now researchers at the University of Colorado are highlighting the role of the sugar, noting evidence that it may play a role in high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fructose is not so sweet when it comes to your health

People get fructose mainly in added dietary sugars, honey, and fruit, and from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, typically in a 55-to-45 percent proportion. High fructose corn syrup is found in many processed and refined foods typical of a Western diet.

At the University of Colorado, scientists recently conducted an overview of clinical and experimental studies to identify the possible role of fructose in diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and chronic kidney disease. They concluded that along with increasing support of a link between excessive intake of fructose and metabolic syndrome, they also found growing evidence that fructose may have a role in high blood pressure and kidney disease.

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Richard J. Johnson, MD, of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University, noted that “excessive fructose intake could be viewed as an increasingly risky food and beverage additive.” He and his co-author on the study, Takahiko Nakagawa, MD, are concerned that doctors may not be advising patients who have chronic kidney disease to restrict added sugars containing fructose when offering them dietary advice.

The new study provides more support for concerns over the health hazards of fructose and high fructose corn syrup consumption. A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles, associated HFCS with pancreatic cancer, while another study found an association between high fructose beverages and an increased risk of gout among women.

This new study is not the first to suggest fructose may have a role in high blood pressure. A study presented by researchers last year at the 2009 American Society of Nephrology’s 42nd Annual Meeting revealed that adults who consumed more than 74 grams of fructose daily (about 2.5 sugary soft drinks daily) increased their risk of developing high blood pressure.

This new review highlights the role of fructose and high fructose corn syrup in contributing to major health conditions. Although there are some who say fructose and high fructose corn syrup do not pose any health hazards, Dr. Johnson noted, “Science shows us there is a potentially negative impact of excessive amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup on cardiovascular and kidney health.”

American Society of Nephrology