SUGAR INDUSTRY SECRETLY PAID FOR FAVORABLE HARVARD RESEARCH
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Lawrenceville, NJ (Dr Simone) – In the 1960s, the Sugar industry initiated, examined the drafts of papers, and paid $6500 (equivalent of $48,000 in 2016 dollars) to Harvard professors, Drs Fredrick Stare and Mark Hegsted, both dead now, to protect sugar even though sugar was being found to be a major cause of heart disease. The Harvard professors were told by the Sugar industry to discredit studies that implicated sugar as a cause of heart disease and conclude that only one dietary modification had to be made – decrease fat and cholesterol intake ( Kearns CE, et al. JAMA Intern Med Sept 12, 2016; http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2548255).
The Harvard review papers were published in 1967 in the New England Journal of Medicine – no mention was made of the Sugar Research Foundation funding but funding from other industry sources was indicated. In these review articles, the authors dismissed good medical papers that implicated sugar and extolled the merits of papers implicating fat and cholesterol as the culprits causing heart disease ( Hegsted DM Ph.D., Stare FJ, M.D. N Engl J Med 1967; 277:186-192July 27, 1967DOI: 10.1056/NEJM196707272770405 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM196707272770405 ; Hegsted, Ph.D., Stare, M.D. N Engl J Med 1967; 277:242-247August 3, 1967DOI: 10.1056/NEJM196708032770505 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM196708032770505 ).
The Sugar industry sent these published papers to policymakers and used them to gain market share by convincing Americans to eat a low-fat diet. This dramatically delayed for decades the scientific consensus on the link between sugar and heart disease.
From internal memos in 1964, John Hickson of the Sugar industry’s Sugar Research Foundation proposed to counteract “negative attitudes towards sugar” by “refuting our detractors.” Hickson hired and sent the Harvard professors five medical articles that threatened the sugar industry, writing, “I will be disappointed if this aspect is drowned out in general interpretation.” Hegsted, the Harvard professor wrote back, “We are well aware of your particular interest.” Hickson of the Sugar industry reviewed multiple drafts of the completed papers and wrote, “Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print.”
Here again we see that “research” that was bought from a famous institution, Harvard, published in a famous medical journal, New England Journal of Medicine, was not questioned and negatively influenced the medical profession and public for decades, costing incalculable number of lives and dollars.
(c) 2017 Charles B. Simone, M.MS., M.D.