Press Releases

Fructose Pancreatic Cancer Study

“I have treatments that can cure pancreatic cancer in the Petri dish. We’ve had that for more than 50 years. But they don’t work on pancreatic cancer in humans. That tells me there’s a difference, biologically, between cancer cells in a Petri dish and cancer cells in a person and we have to respect that.”

Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, American Cancer Society
August 8, 2010,

“Both the authors and the press need to retract these alarmist and unsupported claims — especially the authors, since such gross over-interpretation of a lab study is inexcusable among academic scientists. They seem to be grasping for headlines and promoting some anti-fructose political agenda.”

Gilbert Ross, M.D., Executive Director and Medical Director of the American Council on Science and Health
August 4, 2010,

Study on Fructose and Pancreatic Cancer Generates Premature and Potentially Misleading Conclusions

August 3, 2010

CONTACT: David Knowles
(202) 331-1634

WASHINGTON, DC – A study published in the August issue of Cancer Research1 has resulted in several premature and potentially misleading conclusions when it comes to fructose and its effect on pancreatic tumor cells. Unfortunately, the media covering this story, and even the authors, have been too quick to extrapolate the results of laboratory research on pure fructose to real-world conditions, which is not appropriate or helpful to consumers.

The main contribution of this paper is to demonstrate that cancer cells utilize fructose as an alternate substrate to glucose for fueling growth. Cancer cells are well known for having multiple mechanisms to escape the body’s normal controls, which makes controlled laboratory studies poor models for generating meaningful results.

This study does not look at the way fructose is actually consumed by humans, as it was conducted in a laboratory, not inside the human body. The study also narrowly compared pure fructose to pure glucose, neither of which is consumed in isolation in the human diet. Humans consume a wide array of foods that contain both fructose and glucose in combination along with many other sugars and nutrients. Most notably, both sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup contain roughly 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.

The study’s authors inaccurately state that high fructose corn syrup is the most significant source of fructose in the diet, whereas in the United States more fructose is still consumed from sugar than from high fructose corn syrup. Indeed, worldwide, humans consume nine times as much sucrose as they do high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a natural, simple sugar also commonly found in fruits, vegetables, table sugar, maple syrup, and honey.

The causes of pancreatic cancer are poorly understood. To blame one component of the diet is highly speculative based on one, small study done in a Petri dish.

People should seek the advice of physicians, rather than rely on any one study, to make important decisions on medical treatment for a serious disease such as cancer.

For more information about high fructose corn syrup, please visit


CRA is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.

1. Liu H, Huang D, McArthur DL, Boros LG, Nissen N, Heaney AP. 2010. Fructose Induces Transketolase Flux to Promote Pancreatic Cancer Growth. Cancer Res. 70(15):6368-6376.

Read Next