Autism, Mercury, and High Fructose Corn Syrup

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Saturday, January 30, 2010
Autism, Mercury, and High Fructose Corn Syrup
Dan Murphy, DC— Private Practice of Chiropractic; Diplomate American Board of
Chiropractic Orthopedist; Faculty Life Chiropractic College West; Vice President
ICA 2003-2009; ICA Chiropractor of the Year 2009

The October 2009 (1) issue of the journal Pediatrics published updated data
pertaining to the incidence of Autism in US children, stating “Numerous studies
have suggested that the prevalence of diagnosed Autism spectrum disorders in the
US has increased dramatically in the past decades.” Studies in the early 2000’s
found 1 in 166 US children to have autism, and the estimated incidence of autism
in 2008 was 1 in every 151 US children. This 2009 published study estimated the
incidence of autism to be 1 in every 91 US children, noting that the “prevalence
is higher than previous US estimates.”

There have been constant yet controversial claims of autism incidence being
linked to exposure to the neurotoxin mercury. In that regard, the following
study (2) pertaining to mercury exposure as a consequence of consuming products
containing High Fructose Corn Syrup is thought provoking and potentially

Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: Measured concentrations in food product sugar
1) Mercury is a “potent neurological toxin.” “Mercury is a danger to unborn
children whose developing brains can be damaged if they are exposed to low dose
microgram exposures in the womb.”
2) Mercury is used to produce thousands of products including food ingredients
such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and high fructose corn syrup.
3) High fructose corn syrup is used in food products to enhance shelf life. It
is often produced with mercury in part because mercury is a preservative.
4) This study only looked at the mercury content of high fructose corn syrup and
found some samples to be significantly high in mercury content. These authors
had trouble in their analysis because the companies that make high fructose corn
syrup are reluctant to share their processing information and contents, claiming
such information to be proprietary.
5) Even “organic” high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) uses mercury in the
manufacturing process to enhance the shelf life of HFCS containing products.
6) HFCS is used as a sweetener by food manufacturers. It also stabilizes food
products and enhances product shelf life.
7) This study “clearly and reliably demonstrated significant levels of mercury
in 45% of the HFCS samples analyzed.”
8) “In 2004, several member states of the European Union reported finding
mercury concentrations in beverages, cereals and bakery ware, and sweeteners –
all of which may contain HFCS.”
9) The “FDA does not currently have a mercury surveillance program for food
ingredients such as added sugars or preservatives manufactured with mercury
grade chlor-alkali products.”
10) “A recent study of dietary fructose consumption among US children and adults
indicate that fructose consumption by Americans represents ten percent (10%) of
calories consumed in a 24-hour period.”
11) “Product labels listing HFCS as a first or second ingredient may contain
detectable levels of mercury if the HFCS was manufactured with mercury grade
chlor-alkali chemicals.”
12) These authors estimate that the potential average daily total mercury
exposure from HFCS could be as high as 28.4 micrograms mercury. [WOW!]
13) Daily exposure of mercury from dental amalgams is significantly lower than
28.4 micrograms averaging between 0.79 to 1.91 micrograms, and “Canada and other
countries do not recommend the use of mercury amalgam in pregnant women or
14) “HFCS is presently ubiquitous in processed foods and therefore significantly
consumed by people all over the world.”
15) “Mercury in any form – either as water-soluble inorganic salt, a
lipid-soluble organic mercury compound, or as metallic mercury- is an extremely
potent neurological toxin.” [Important]
16) “Organic mercury compounds such as methylmercury that are fat-soluble and
readily cross the blood brain barrier are especially damaging to developing
nervous tissues.”
17) Brain development is related to cumulative early life exposure to mercury.
These early life exposures include the following sources:
A)) Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy [methylmercury]
B)) Thimerosal in certain vaccines (ethylmercury)
C)) Dental amalgam [inorganic mercury]
18) “In the US, the current action level of 1 micrograms methylmercury/g fish or
seafood was set in 1977 during court proceedings of the United States of
American v. Anderson Seafoods, Inc. The data used to determine the action level
in fish came from a poisoning incident that occurred in Iraq under Saddam
Hussein's regime in 1971–1972.”
19) “There has never been a blinded, placebo, controlled study published giving
humans mercury or methylmercury, nor would this kind of study be ethically
20) “Quantitative information on long-term effects of inorganic [found in dental
amalgams] mercury compounds on humans does not exist.” Inorganic mercury
compounds react with DNA and are clastogenic [agents that induce disruption or
breakage of chromosomes].
21) “Sensitive populations such as neonates lacking the ability to efficiently
excrete mercury or individuals that retain mercury in their body due to
impairments in detoxification [glutathione] pathways may not be protected by any
exposure limit.”
22) “The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that minimizing any form
of mercury exposure is essential for optimal child health and nervous system
23) Mercury containing chemicals may be used to make HFCS. Therefore, food
products containing HFCS may also have mercury contamination.
24) “With daily per capita consumption of HFCS in the US averaging about 50
grams and daily mercury intakes from HFCS ranging up to 28 micrograms, this
potential source of mercury may exceed other major sources of mercury especially
in high-end consumers of beverages sweetened with HFCS.”

To understand more about the dangers of mercury, the book Diagnosis Mercury:
Money, Politics, and Poison by Jane Hightower MD (2009) is excellent.
Based upon this study (Dufault), I believe that any product containing high
fructose corn syrup should be avoided. This included most sodas, catsups, etc.
Additionally, numerous studies have linked high fructose corn syrup to both the
obesity epidemic and escalating diabetes rates in the United States.

1) Kogan MD, Blumberg SJ, Schieve LA, Prevalence of Parent-Reported
Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in the US, 2007,
Pediatrics. Volume 124, Number 4, October 2009.
2) Dufault R, LeBlanc B, Schnoll R, Cornett C, Schweitzer L, Walling D,
Hightower J, Patrick L, Lukiw WJ. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: Measured
concentrations in food product sugar. Environmental Health. January 26, 2009;8:2