Deceptive Research: When Sugar Leaves A Bitter Taste


This study was covered widely including USA Today, NBC News and other outlets.

From NY Times, an excerpt:

The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.

The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry…

he Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat…

The New England Journal of Medicine did not begin to require financial disclosures until 1984.

What to Fear in 2015

From Parade Magazine,  What to Fear in 2015:

An excerpt:

Here are a few of the things you should and should not fear in 2015:

  • Flu not Ebola
  • Domestic violence not serial killers, pedophiles
  • Heart disease not Mercury in fish
  • Not getting enough dietary fiber not gluten
  • The re-appearance of measles, whooping cough, and other preventable diseases not vaccine side effects
  • Texting while driving not air travel
  • Malware on your cell phone not bulk password theft
  • Gun violence among young people not school shootings/mass murders
  • Sitting too much not heart attacks during exercise

Another link on the measles epidemic from NY Times: Vaccine Critics Defensive. Another editorial remarked on how Ebola which is much less contagious than the measles alarmed so many people in this country; it stated that if a terrorist, rather than parents refusing vaccinations, had unleashed a highly contagious virus on our communities, many would be calling for military retaliation. Unfortunately, it takes a measles epidemic to provide a passionate argument for immunizations. Related blog post1400 Different Immunization Schedules -What Could Go Wrong …

From NBC News Measles Vaccine FAQ

IBD Update 2014 (part 2)

5. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2013; 19: 2927-36.  This reference is another article that tries to help discuss the risks and benefits of biologic therapy for pediatric inflammatory bowel disease.  After reviewing the potential risks, the authors provide their “Option Grid” (Page 2932).  The authors state, “in summary, the adult literature supports the concept of the early use of combination therapy…the risks associated with anti-TNF therapy are really not significantly different as compared with thiopurine therapy and perhaps in some cases safer.  Therefore, we should be moving closer to the idea of using anti-TNF therapy early, with or without an immunomodulator.  In the sickest patients, combination therapy probably adds benefit, and then once in remission, consideration can be given for stopping one of the medications, more likely the thiopurine.

6. Gut 2013; 62: 689-94.  Risk of ischemic heart disease in patients with inflammatory bowel disease: a nationwide Danish cohort study.  From 1997 to 2009, the authors compared 28,833 IBD persons to >4.5 million persons without IBD who were matched for age, gender, socioeconomic status, and calendar year.  With a mean follow-up of 13 years, they identified a 59% higher incidence rate of ischemic heart disease in patients with IBD.  Long-term use of immunosuppressive medications, such as azathioprine and anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha agents, was not associated with an increased risk of ischemic heart disease.

7.   Gastroenterol 2013; 145: 1459-63.  AGA Guideline for Use of Thiopurines, Methotrexate, and Ant-TNF-alpha Biologic Drugs for the Induction and Maintenance of Remission in Inflammatory Crohn’s Disease. This reference was previously noted in blog (with a link) AGA Guidelines for the Use of Thiopurines and Anti  – gutsandgrowt.  The print version does have a nice algorithm (pg 1463).  The accompanying technical review: Gastroenterol 2013; 145: 1464-78.

8. BMJ 2013;347:f6633. Free full-text BMJ article PDF. (Thanks to Mike Hart for this reference) From the abstract:  During 3 421 972 person years of follow-up, we documented 284 cases of Crohn’s disease and 363 cases of ulcerative colitis. The risk of Crohn’s disease was inversely associated with physical activity (P for trend 0.02). Compared with women in the lowest fifth of physical activity, the multivariate adjusted hazard ratio of Crohn’s disease among women in the highest fifth of physical activity was 0.64 (95% confidence interval 0.44 to 0.94). Active women with at least 27 metabolic equivalent task (MET) hours per week of physical activity had a 44% reduction (hazard ratio 0.56, 95% confidence interval 0.37 to 0.84) in risk of developing Crohn’s disease compared with sedentary women with ❤ MET h/wk. Physical activity was not associated with risk of ulcerative colitis (P for trend 0.46). The absolute risk of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease among women in the highest fifth of physical activity was 8 and 6 events per 100 000 person years compared with 11 and 16 events per 100 000 person years among women in the lowest fifth of physical activity, respectively. Age, smoking, body mass index, and cohort did not significantly modify the association between physical activity and risk of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease (all P for interaction >0.35). Conclusion In two large prospective cohorts of US women, physical activity was inversely associated with risk of Crohn’s disease but not of ulcerative colitis.

Comment: While physical activity may directly reduce the risk of Crohn’s disease, it could also be an epiphenomenon of another unmeasured variable (eg. dietary habits) that modifies this risk.

Related blog post:

Understanding IBD Therapy Risks -A Good Link | gutsandgrowth  Provides link to useful 6-minute internet video for families.

Breakfast: a marker for heart-healthy habits

Summary of study (Circulation 2013; 128: 337-343) from Epocrates (emphasis in blue by blog):

Study Question:
Is eating breakfast or not associated with risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) among men residing in the United States?
Data for this analysis were from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, an ongoing prospective study of male health professionals. Approximately 97% of participants were of white European descent. Eating habits, including breakfast eating, were assessed in 1992 in 26,902 American men, ages 45-82 years, who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Participants were followed through mailed biennial questionnaires that ascertained medical history, lifestyle, and health-related behaviors. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for CHD, adjusted for demographic, diet, lifestyle, and other CHD risk factors.
Participants who did not report eating breakfast were younger than those who did, and were more likely to be smokers, to work full-time, to be unmarried, to be less physically active, and to drink more alcohol. Men who reported that they ate late at night were more likely to smoke, to sleep <7 hours a night, or to have baseline hypertension compared with men who did not eat late at night. The late-night eating abstainers were more likely to be married and to work full-time, and ate on average one time less per day than the late-night eaters. The mean diet quality of the participants was high among participants, regardless of their breakfast or late-night eating status. During 16 years of follow-up, 1,527 incident CHD cases were diagnosed. Men who skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of CHD compared with men who did not (relative risk, 1.27; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.53). Compared with men who did not eat late at night, those who ate late at night had a 55% higher CHD risk (relative risk, 1.55; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-2.29). These associations were mediated by body mass index, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes mellitus. No association was observed between eating frequency (times per day) and risk of CHD.
The investigators concluded that eating breakfast was associated with significantly lower CHD risk in this cohort of male health professionals.
These data suggest that time of meals is associated with other lifestyle behaviors. Adjustment for body mass index, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and diabetes [resulted in the relationship between breakfast (and late-night meals) and CHD no longer being significant.] Physicians may use this information to assist in the identification of those who may be at risk and need to improve lifestyle habits. However, it is unlikely that eating breakfast by itself would confer significant protection against heart disease.

Full text available at

Related blog post:

Skipping breakfast –boomerang effect for obesity | gutsandgrowth

Heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet

From AJC (see link below): “The study lasted five years and involved about 7,500 people in Spain. Those who ate Mediterranean-style with lots of olive oil or nuts had a 30 percent lower risk of major cardiovascular problems compared to those who were told to follow a low-fat diet but who in reality, didn’t cut fat very much. Mediterranean meant lots of fruit, fish, chicken, beans, tomato sauce, salads, and wine and little baked goods and pastries.” Methods (at “In a multicenter trial in Spain, we randomly assigned participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, but with no cardiovascular disease at enrollment, to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet (advice to reduce dietary fat). Participants received quarterly individual and group educational sessions and, depending on group assignment, free provision of extra-virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, or small nonfood gifts. The primary end point was the rate of major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes). On the basis of the results of an interim analysis, the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 4.8 years.”

Related blog entry: Six years later-Mediterranean diet comes out on top | gutsandgrowth