Smoking and Sugar Can Lead To Death

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It took mainstream America decades to recognize that cigarettes could kill.  The same may be said of sugar.   There is a growing body of research that points to sugar as the proverbial smoking gun as it relates to modern disease.  Although it may be common knowledge that eating sugar makes you fat and causes tooth decay, little do most folks know that it’s also correlated with cardio vascular disease (CVD), hypertension,  diabetes II, and even some cancers.

This month in the New York Times Magazine, Gary Taubes summarizes this relationship.  The article touches on the “cause of heart disease” historic battle between two rival points of view:  “The Ansel Keys – It’s caused by dietary fat” vs. “John Yudkin – It’s caused by sugar”.  Mr. Taubes also explains the process in which the liver converts sugar, specifically fructose, into fat which over time leads to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.  Last, he describes the process in which excess insulin levels, caused by insulin resistance, promote and even accelerate the growth of certain cancer cells, such as breast and colon cancers.  Read the article in full here:

Is Sugar Toxic?

Early this week, NPR followed the Mr. Taubes article with a short post on their health blog:

Sugar May Be An Empty Nutrient, But Is It Poisonous?

The heart of the issue involves biochemistry.  Calories may be the same, but the way they’re metabolized by the body is not.   Robert Lustig MD, a nationally recognized expert in childhood obesity, provides an in-depth understanding of how our bodies process different types of sugar – glucose by our cells, fructose by our liver.  In his lecture “Sugar:  The Bitter Truth” (below),  it’s easy to get lost in his numerous and lengthy biochemical discussions, but it’s worth your time to hear his startling conclusions.    Fructose, especially high-fructose corn syrup, when converted to fat by the liver, leads to obesity, diabetes, CVD, and hypertension.

“Sugar:  The Bitter Truth”


Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [7/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 16717]

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