(CBS) Afraid of fructose? You may have good reason to be, as an alarming new study shows that the popular sweetener can fuel the growth of cancer.
The study, conducted by scientists at UCLA, found that pancreatic cancer cells grew faster when "fed" with fructose. Study author Dr. Anthony Heaney, associate professor of medicine and neurosurgery at the university's cancer center, said it was likely that fructose would also speed the growth of other cancers as well.
"The bottom line is the modern diet contains a lot of refined sugar including fructose and it's a hidden danger implicated in a lot of modern diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and fatty liver," Heaney said in a written statement.
The study was published in the August 1 issue of the journal "Cancer Research."
Heaney called for government action to reduce American's consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a leading source of fructose in the Western diet. Fructose also comes from sources such as fruit, vegetables and old fashioned table sugar.
"I think this paper has a lot of public health implications," Heaney said. "Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back on the amount of HFCS in our diets."
But the corn lobby (high-fructose is made from corn) felt the research left a bitter taste in its mouth.
"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 Corn Refiners Association said in a statement, concluding that the root causes of pancreatic cancer are complicated and poorly understood.
Between 1970 and 1990, consumption of high-fructose corn syrup rose 1,000 percent, according to the cancer researchers. The sweetener - a blend of fructose and another sugar called glucose - is found in all sorts of foods and beverages and is the most common sweetener used in American soft drinks.
The association said that overall, sugar is still the most common form of fructose in the American diet.
And don't be fooled by products which replace high-fructose corn syrup with sugar. They also contain high levels of fructose.