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Weill Cornell Researchers Find High Fructose Corn Syrup Feeds Colon Tumors


BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) - Doctors at Weill Cornell Medicine say their research now shows a direct link between high fructose corn syrup in beverages and colorectal cancer. The study specifically looked at the liquid form of sugar like those found in drinks. 

Marcus Goncalves is the lead author and an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He said the evidence from his research on mice is straightforward.

"The sugar is being directly eaten by the tumor," he said. "And the tumor can use that sugar to grow."

Cornell University is a WSKG underwriter.

Earlier research has already demonstrated a relationship between added sugars and human cancers. Goncalves said their new study finally showed that the mechanism is the sugars not a hormone like insulin or some other by-product.


Goncalves described it as a "public health problem."

Colorectal cancer is becoming more prevalent in younger people. It has been increasing in people in their thirties and forties but it’s still generally recommended that screening not begin until age 50.

Goncalves said that might be too late to detect and remove small tumors called polyps. 

"If you have that same polyp and you’re drinking sugar sweetened beverages every day, it’s possible you’ll increase the size of that polyp and that polyp will become cancer earlier and not be detected by age 50," said Goncalves.

He said he tells all his patients the same thing: "Stop drinking sugar."

"That is the number one thing you can do to change your diet and improve your health."

The physician emphasized that it is important to understand this is not just about high fructose corn syrup. Any added sugars can feed tumors because the human body sees all sugars the same. 

They plan to begin studies with people later this year. Goncalves and his co-author, Dr. Lewis Cantley are already talking to regulators about sticking labels on sugary drinks warning about the association between added sugar and cancer.