By Dr. Royal Lee
Summary: Before there was high-fructose corn syrup, there was just plain corn syrup—the original synthetic sweetener, created by chemically decomposing cornstarch into glucose molecules. Dr. Harvey Wiley, the first head of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), rightfully claimed that use of the word “corn” in describing this imitation food was fraudulent, since it implies naturalness in what is clearly a product of human engineering. In this 1958 article from Let’s Live magazine, Dr. Royal Lee cites a seminal experiment by Drs. Lukens and Dohan at the University of Pennsylvania in which corn syrup (i.e., glucose) was shown to cause diabetes in test animals, whereas refined cane sugar was not. Dr. Lee adds that animal-feeding studies and clinical trials had shown that corn syrup “contributes to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, lassitude, brain fatigue, overweight, irritability, and mental depression; it impairs the assimilation of calcium; and it destroys vital amino acids if they are cooked in its presence.” Finally, Dr. Lee excoriates the FDA for failing to force manufacturers to distinguish between synthetic corn syrup and natural sweeteners on food labels, a deceit that bespeaks the agency’s transformation from consumer watchdog, under Dr. Wiley’s leadership, to the guardian of food manufacturing interests that it is today. From Let’s Live magazine, 1958.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Sidelights on Glucose
The late Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, first head of the federal Ford and Drug Administration (1906–1912), suspected glucose to be a dangerous, adulterant food because it is a synthetic imitation of the natural sugars. It was [originally] made by the conversion of cornstarch via acid treatment, in which all mineral and vitamin factors were destroyed during the synthesis of the “corn sugar.”
Dr. Wiley thought the use of the word “corn” as a descriptive adjective was fraudulent for the new sugar or syrup, since it implied that they were natural products of corn. Corn syrup is no more a corn product than oleo [margarine]—made by hydrogenating a vegetable oil—is butter. Both are hideous insults to the intelligence of the food buyer, synthetic counterfeits deliberately designed to undersell the genuine product they simulate.
Glucose is a first-class adulterant for soft drinks, canned fruits, and dried fruits because it is so cheap, puffs up the weight, and saves the cost of real sugar.
Refined sugar cannot cause diabetes in test animals. Glucose does, according to tests made by Drs. Lukens and Dohan at the University of Pennsylvania.
Glucose causes low blood sugar (by overstimulation of the pancreas) as well as diabetes, and this state results in a predisposition to heart disease, lassitude, brain fatigue, high blood pressure, overweight, irritability, and mental depression, to list the finding of a current report.
The glucose present in proteins when they are cooked results in a destruction of the most important of the amino acids—tryptophan, lysine, threonine, and methionine. Calcium assimilation too is blocked by the presence of glucose, while some other sugars, such as lactose (milk sugar), encourage calcium assimilation. Such a calcium deficiency can cause reduced resistance to infection, can cause the loss of teeth by decay or pyorrhea, and can predispose to a long list of chronic diseases including forms of arthritis.
Calcium has so many functions it is hard to overstate how vital its importance is. There are good reasons to believe that no virus infection can occur unless the calcium levels of the body fluids have dropped below a certain limit. No doubt here is where the insidious relation of soft drinks and ice cream to polio is to be found. Since vitamin P increases the calcium content of the body fluids, it is easy to see how orange juice is better than ascorbic acid to protect against polio, as [has been] found in tests.
Here then is the case against glucose (alias corn syrup, grape sugar, dextrose, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup). It contributes, according to positive tests in animal feeding and clinical findings in human observation, to the cause of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, lassitude, brain fatigue, overweight, irritability, and mental depression; it impairs the assimilation of calcium; and it destroys vital amino acids if they are cooked in its presence.
When we buy canned fruit—peaches, say—they have a heavy, clear syrup. But when we taste [the syrup], it has a disappointing, unsatisfying lack of sweetness. The maker has put into the can corn sugar, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells him he need not state on the label what kind of sugar he has used.
Corn sugar is so much cheaper than cane sugar that vast quantities of the less sweet substitute are used. Soft drinks are so loaded with cheap, health-destroying substitutes, as are most candies.
Dr. Benjamin P. Sandler of Asheville, North Carolina, has been working since 1931 on the theory that an excessive exogenous amount of glucose in the diet promotes susceptibility to viral or bacterial disease. Tuberculosis patients improved rapidly when put on a nonsugar and nonglucose diet.
But here is the final proof. After Asheville and other North Carolina papers gave Dr. Sandler’s views considerable publicity, the incidence of polio in North Carolina dropped, from 2,402 cases in 1948 to 214 in 1949. One ice cream distributor in the state sold one million fewer gallons of ice cream in the season following Dr. Sandler’s news release. Ice cream and soft drinks—or rather, the synthetic glucose and sugar in these counterfeit foods—is the cause of polio; do not believe propaganda to the contrary.
Dr. Sandler has shown that glucose is the most potent offender of all the sugars in undermining resistance and that the natural glucose in the bloodstream, formed by conversion in the body from starches or protein, is not the same as the synthetic glucose sold us in adulterated foods. Bleached flour, refined sugar, synthetic glucose, or counterfeit fats could not possibly be legitimately marketed as foods without corruption, dishonesty, and compromise at the sources of lawmaking and law enforcement.
The monkey in the jungle knows better than to eat poisonous fruits and insects. He has learned the hard way. Why cannot we learn the hard way too?
By Dr. Royal Lee. Let’s Live, 1958.