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Study Relies on Debunked Research and Pure Speculation In Effort To Blame HFCS for Autism

Study Relies on Debunked Research and Pure Speculation In Effort To Blame HFCS for Autism
Authors mix discredited data and alarmist theory to attack a safe food ingredient

April 13, 2012

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WASHINGTON, DC – A study published in the online edition of Clinical Epigenetics uses dated and unsound research in an unpersuasive effort to blame high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption as the cause of autism, a disorder whose causes are still unknown, according to cardiologist James M. Rippe, M.D., Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute, Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, and consultant to the food industry.

The authors attempt to apply principles of “epigenetics,” which is an emerging but still largely exploratory field that attempts to understand how diet and other factors might impact changes in gene expression. “This is still considered an infant science,” said Dr. Rippe, “and most scientists do not regard studies related to epigenetics as being anything more than speculative at this stage.” The study’s authors have even gone a further untested step by coining for their own admittedly “novel” approach the more grandiose designation of “macroepigenetics.”

The study also relies on an incomplete and unconvincing comparison of U.S. dietary habits with those of Italy designed to lead inexorably to the conclusion that HFCS could be the only possible explanation for differences in autism incidence.

“Since the causes of autism are not known and this is a highly emotional issue among parents, speculative studies of this kind can only add to the needless worries that have been engendered by similar unfortunate assertions that have been made earlier trying to link autism to a variety of other factors,” added Dr. Rippe. Such allegations around heavy metals, pesticides and childhood vaccines are not widely accepted in the health and research community.

High fructose corn syrup has a strong history as a safe ingredient recognized by food manufacturers and the U.S. government. In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.1

For more information about high fructose corn syrup, please visit
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The Corn Refiners Association (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. 61 Fed. Reg. 43447 (August 23, 1996), 21 C.F.R. 184.1866. Direct food substances affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe; High Fructose Corn Syrup – Final Rule.

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