NYTimes Asks: Is Sugar Toxic?

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The New York Times Magazine this week will feature a lengthy treatise on the subject of sugar,  actually questioning whether it is toxic to humans.

It's a given that sugar in excessive amounts is unhealthy. But the piece brings a new argument into the fray: Is sugar actually poisonous? 

So far, the connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer is established: "You are more likely to get cancer if you're obese or diabetic than if you're not, and you're more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don't," the article says. This is not controversial.

The case being made now is this: High sugar consumption is linked to insulin resistance; insulin resistance leads us to secrete more insulin -- and insulin actually promotes tumor growth.

How does this happen? "The cells of many cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply," research scientist Craig Thompson, who is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, tells the Times. "Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it."

So if it's sugar that causes insulin resistance, the article says, "then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer -- some cancers, at least -- radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly."

More studies would need to be done to solidify the links and establish enough evidence to make the case incontrovertible, but, the author of the piece says, there's no way to arrive at that point without starting the conversation on it.

So, could sugar end up killing you? Read Taubes' article in New York Times Magazine and get in on the discussion.

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