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Sugar Does Cause Heart Disease

A few months ago, The New York Times had an article on how sugar is basically a poison. Of course, everything can be a poison at the right dosage: a small amount of cyanide or a large amount of water can both poison you. So the claim was that at the levels that we are consuming sugar, it is poisonous; mostly because our bodies are not meant to handle the large amounts of fructose in sugar-based products like sweets and sodas. In nature, fructose is found in fruits, and due to the amount of fiber in them it’s impossible to eat enough fruit for the fructose to do damage. Also, the fiber does a lot of good. But sugar has no fiber, so in effect it’s all the bad stuff processed out of fruits and concentrated into white crystals — then added to everything. The article was focused on the work of a scientist named Robert Lustig, and included this:

If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.

Robert Lustig


Sugar has been linked the heart disease before, but the explanation was that sugar makes people fat and fat people get heart disease. But now there’s a study which claims that even thin women who eat a lot of sugar are at greater risk for heart disease. The study showed that even in the absence of weight gain, those women that drank more than two juices or sodas a day had greater risk of heart disease than those who drank less than one. Why? Because they had about four times the number of triglycerides in their blood, and their blood sugar level was in a pre-diabetes stage. They also tended to have more belly fat, but not necessarily weigh more. Belly fat in and of itself has been linked to all kinds of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia — which is why flat stomachs are attractive, since we’re attracted to healthy people.

The study did not find the same effect on men, but their theory is that since men are larger, they probably just need more sugar for the same effects to show up. In any case, sugar is clearly not benign by any means, and Lustig can safely say “I told you so.” If you have an hour and a half and like science, his lecture on sugar is very good:

See also:

Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup Might Be Causing Cancer

More Anti-Sugar Advice


From The US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health

More Anti-Sugar Advice

Lifehacker has a pretty in-depth article based on the April NY Times piece about how sugar is really bad for you. It does a great job of walking through exactly what’s bad about it: that the glucose half of sugar isn’t that bad, that the fructose half is really bad, and that eating fruits is just fine because the fiber in fruits keeps you from eating too much fructose. Sodas and pudding though, don’t have any fiber and you can just eat tons and tons of fructose without ever feeling full. This in turn causes the liver to work really hard, produce a lot of fat, and cause all kinds of problems — from high-blood pressure to diabetes to cancer.

Photo by Nick Depree. It may look good, but it's evil.


The article, however, goes further to say that the reason processed foods are bad, is related: fiber makes food spoil faster, so it’s removed during processing. Eating fiber-free food keeps the brain from knowing it’s full as fast, and we end up eating more (there are also all kinds of benefits to fiber besides weight-related ones). Finally, there’s some good advice on how to successfully give up sugar:

  • Eat fruits. They’re sweet, so it’ll feel like you’re drinking soda, but just try to down three apples in a row and see how that goes.
  • Check labels for sugar. It can be in pretty much anything, so don’t assume something doesn’t have sugar just because it doesn’t seem like it should.
  • Don’t have sugar around. If it’s not in your house or office, it’ll make it that much harder to eat it. Do keep fruit around, to quell the craving.
  • Don’t quit cold turkey. It’ll help you not fall off the wagon. It’s fine to have cake once in a while, but make it the exception, rather than the rule. Eating sugar should be a rare thing, but not unheard of.
  • Burn it off. A lot of fructose is actually helpful to replace glycogen after, for example playing basketball. Conversely, if you accidentally eat a cupcake or drink a soda, go run a 5k or something to give your body a reason to replace glycogen. And yes, you do actually need to run a whole 3 miles to burn off just one cupcake.

From Lifehacker

Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup Might Be Causing Cancer

High-fructose corn syrup has been demonized so much in the media this past year, that they recently tried to change the name to “corn sugar”.  And now the New York Times has an article saying that the Corn Refiners Association is right: there’s no difference between high-fructose corn syrup and sugar, because they’re both just awful for you. And not just in the way you already know about, namely that sugars are just empty calories which make you fat which lead to a whole host of health problems. But rather, the fructose in both sugar (50% fructose) and high-fructose corn syrup (55% fructose) is bad for us (at the levels that most Americans consume it).

The story is that you’d need to eat a LOT of natural food like fruits and such to get the equivalent amount of fructose the average person now eats in a day. And when our livers process a lot of fructose, it gets turned into fat which makes us and our livers fatter (even if the wasitline stays the same), which in turn causes insulin resistance (aka “metabolic syndrome”), which is known to cause heart disease. The kicker is that insulin resistance may also cause and feed cancer. This is because insulin resistance causes our body to make more insulin, which leads to elevated levels of insulin in our blood, and apparently tumors may be using insulin as fuel to grow.

However, all of this is more or less conjecture at this point: there’s no conclusive evidence for any of it, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest the above may be true. For example, diabetes, obesity and cancer all exploded around the same time the West started consuming a lot more sugar. And cultures that don’t consume a lot of sugar, like Asians and Eskimos, don’t have a lot of diabetes or cancer.  And last year, the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association announced that people with diabetes are more prone to get cancer.

So, there is a lot correlation, but not much if any causation. The theory sounds plausible, but has yet to be proven. What is proven is that even if sugar doesn’t cause insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and cancer directly, it still does nothing good and still makes people fat, which does cause heart disease, diabetes and cancer. So it’s probably good to stay away from it, and who knows, you may be avoiding cancer.

But just so you don’t think it’s all bad, Gomestic has a list of good uses for sugar, none of which involve eating it:

  1. Make plants (cut or in the ground) live longer
  2. Soothes burning tongue
  3. Makes baked goods last longer
  4. Starts fires
  5. Great hand cleaner
  6. Kill wasps, cockroaches and flies

Mmmm…. tasty.

From The New York Times