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Raising awareness hasn't been easy

Sometime between 1995-1996, when our daugther was about 4 years old, we concluded after a comprehensive elimination diet that her chronic respiratory symptoms, frequent ear infections, chronic bronchitis, recurrent pneumonitis and asthma were unequivocally associated with consumption of high fructose corn syrup. There was one huge problem - the link between the two was not medically recognized and still isn't.

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I returned to school in 2008 with the goal of figuring out how this could be possible. In 2012 I completed a Master's in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology from New York Medical College. My studies brought me to a hypothesis that fructose malabsorption was underlying the association and that unabsorbed excess free fructose - like the kind that is in HFCS and apple juice, but not sucrose (aka table sugar) - was modifying dietary proteins and turning them into immunogens capable of causing lung disease and possibly a host of other illnesses. Faculty at NYMC acknowledged the scientific merits of the hypothesis.

A 2013 request for research funding was unsuccessful due to a lack of epidemiology research. So that meant I needed to study biostatistics and epidemiology to do this type of analysis. 2015 marked a major milestone - the epidemiology study I designed to test the mechanistic hypothesis was published in a peer reviewed journal - Public Health Nutrition - published by Cambridge University Press. Studies like this one are based on nationally representative survey data and often form the basis for longitudinal research funding.

At this time, there are no roadblocks to longitudinal research other than funding. You can join the effort to keep the momentum going by donating - any amount helps. You can write your congressional representative and let them know you support efforts to fund research. If you are a journalist, you can write an article about this issue to help raise awareness. You can write a letter to the FDA. The following 2013 petition failed to gain traction, but the message remains the same - it is time to re-evaluate whether HFCS should continue to be certified as a"Generally Recognized as Safe" food.

Our petition to the FDA on Change.org is directed to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. It urges the FDA to get HFCS out of our food. At a minimum we are asking the FDA re-evaluate high fructose corn syrup's status as a "Generally Recognized as Safe" food. Collectively we can make a difference.

Petitioning Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration US FDA - GET HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP [HFCS] OUT OF OUR FOOD.

By advertising that HFCS is "just like sugar", corn refiners have created alot of confusion. This has made it very difficult for most people to understand how it's different than sugar. The truth is that an increasing number of scientific studies are implicating high fructose corn syrup as a risk factor for hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity.

And that's not all. Case reports and anecdotal evidence link high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to mucus hypersecretion of the airways, auto-immune reactivity, chronic bronchitis, chronic eustachian tube dysfunction, and asthma. For more than 15 years pediatricians and the medical community have heard reports of the link, yet it remains medically unrecognized and unresearched. Fructose malabsorption, a condition thought to underlie the link between HFCS and many of the pro-inflammatory symptoms observed, has never been assessed or researched in children.

We are now consuming on average just under one pound per person, per week, every week of HFCS. Scientific studies of the effects of excess-free-fructose [as occurs in HFCS] and fructose malabsorption in adults are being ignored. Research indicates that 10% to 30% of individuals are unable to properly absorb excess-free-fructose at current levels of consumption. It's effects beyond abdominal pain, gas, bloating and interference with absorption remain unresearched.

Asthma researchers are confounded by the significant and continuously rising rates of asthma, particularly in minority children. Given our steady improvements in air quality, and lower smoking rates, asthma levels should be going down, not up. Researchers speculate there is something else in the environment that is likely driving up these rates. They just don't know what. Yet, case reports of the link between high fructose corn syrup, and auto-immune reactivity and asthma remain medically unrecognized and unresearched.

Lastly, we started the new year (2013) with yet another report that links HFCS to obesity. Researchers have studied brain scans after glucose consumption and compared them with brain scans after fructose consumption. They found that the region of the brain that regulates satiety does not turn on with fructose as it does with glucose. So if you eat foods containing more fructose than glucose [HFCS], the switch that controls apetite and signals the feeling of being full and satisfied never gets turned on. In other words, on a high fructose [HFCS] diet you will tend to eat more. See the bibliography page at fructositis.org for more links to studies on the science of HFCS and chronic disease.

With all due respect, we think it's time to revisit whether high fructose corn syrup [HFCS] should continue to be certified as a "Generally Recognized as Safe" food.

Luanne R.D.Christopher, M.Sc. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Founder, fructositis.org

Author of paper - "Consumption of Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Is Fructositis Triggered Bronchitis, Asthma, & Auto-immune Reactivity Merely a Side Bar in the Etiology of Metabolic Syndrome II (to Be Defined)? – Evidence and a Hypothesis." New York Medical College Library, 2012. Print. You can request a copy using the contact us page at http://www.fructositis.org