Too Sweet or Not Too Sweet? That is no longer the question.

While I’m butchering poor Bill, Shakespeare used to hide whenever the ships came back from the West Indies.  The sugar cane would drive Queen Elizabeth nuts and she would have friends executed. After the effects wore off she would wonder where everybody was.  I read that in a book, but who knows these days what the truth is.   Now back to the story.

This just in from the New York Times, (April 13, 2011) “Sugar is a Toxin” O.K. they actually phrased it, as, “Is Sugar Toxic?” They are reviewing a lecture given by Robert Lustig in May of 2009.  While cautious they don’t completely throw this guy under the bus, which use to be the case when researchers said something bad about sugar.  Their careers would be destroyed.  So, this should be great news, what am I complaining about?

Well for one, most of this stuff has been known for quite some time.  I read Sugar Blues during the 70’s give or take and that was as condemning of sugar then as Robert Lustig is now.  So of course I’m doing the math and that means tens of millions of people could have had a better chance at not getting all kinds of deadly pathologies because this information was available in the public domain for a long time.  It was ridiculed and ignored because big Agriculture and Big Pharma could afford to buy politicians, the media, The American Diabetic Association, The American Medical Association, etc.  This lack of truth cost millions of lives and many more millions of dollars. 

You may have heard that obesity and diabetes are now becoming one disease and they even call it diabesity.  How do we get this Brangelina(Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie) conjunction of disease?  What sets off metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance?  Researchers now think it is from an accumulation of fat in the liver.  There is a correlation between liver fat and insulin resistance in patients, lean or obese.  Fat deposited in the liver is the beginning of insulin-resistance.

Animals fed enough pure fructose or enough sugar (50% glucose and 50% fructose) convert fructose into fat in the liver.  The saturated fatty acid, palmitate, gives us heart disease when we eat it, by raising LDL cholesterol.  This fat accumulates in the liver, resulting in insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

These changes can happen in as little as a week if the animals are fed sugar or fructose in huge amounts; 60 or 70 percent of the calories in their diets.  It can take several months when human conditions are simulated meaning; we don’t quite eat like these animals or at least not as quickly, although I have been known to clear my plate quicker than my dog.  Not to confuse eating like an animal with chewing with your mouth open, I’m just speaking about consuming slightly less amounts of carbs, fructose to be exact.  Fructose is the culprit and high amounts of fructose in our diet are subsidized by our government as in Corn subsidies. 

You may have observed that High Fructose Corn Syrup is getting a little bad attention these days, but then the industry just pays a news outlet to say it is good for you and it becomes the truth.  While our government is crying that we have to stop eating sweets, they pay for all the junk food and the manufacturer can’t resist selling it because they have a tremendous profit margin.  It’s hard not to make a profit when they get their main ingredients for free.  Did I say free?  Nothing is free, I mean it is at our expense, health wise and our tax dollars.  So, raise taxes to pay for health care or do something that involves common sense and stop corn subsidies?  Too bad Shakespeare didn’t ask that question. 

Am I being highly critical, snotty, and smug towards our current health care system?  I guess you could say yes except that when you stop consuming sugar the fatty liver goes away, as well as the insulin resistance.  I feel that last scientific fact gives me a little license to refute the insanity with the eloquent reply so often stated by teenagers, “Duh”.  I have to admit that did feel good.   

O.K., some additional good news, having insulin resistance doesn’t necessarily create diabetes.   Some people continue to secrete enough insulin to overcome resistance to this hormone.  I have two articles below that mentions this from a slightly different point of view. (Titles,Simple Strategies to Survive Outdated Medical Advice” and A Short Tirade On A Big Problem.”)

By the way, a method to increase your odds at not getting diabetes is to do strenuous exercise.  However, if you have diabetes what do doctors prescribe for it?  Insulin, but having chronically elevated insulin levels has harmful effects of its own, heart disease just for starters.  Higher insulin results in higher triglyceride levels and blood pressure. It creates lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”), which aggravates the insulin resistance and behold, “metabolic syndrome.”

50 years ago heart attacks were considered to be caused by high cholesterol.  Since then we’ve all gotten fatter and more diabetic. Metabolic syndrome is now considered the proverbial Elephant in the Room.  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Human subjects fed the equivalent of the fructose in 8 to 10 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day, became insulin-resistant, and their triglycerides would go up in just a few days. With lower doses, the same effects would appear, but it would take longer.  Are you sure just cutting down to a few cans of soda a day is a good strategy?

Cancer seems to increase with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  Insulin resistance is a common denominator in many cancers, as it is in type II diabetes and heart disease. The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer is well known and is not controversial.

A large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles, which means they could be prevented.  Death rates from cancer, like those from diabetes, increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th.  Malignant cancer, like diabetes, was a relatively rare disease in populations that didn’t eat Western diets, and in some of these populations it barely existed.

In 1984, Canadian physicians published an analysis of 30 years of cancer incidence among Inuit Indians.  A striking increase in the incidence of cancers of modern societies including lung and  cervical cancer were noted while breast-cancer was almost non-existent. They could not find a single case in an Inuit patient before 1966.  They found only two cases between 1967 and 1980. Since then, as their diet became more modern, breast cancer incidence has steadily increased among the Inuit.  Diabetes rates in the Inuit have also gone from very low in the mid-20th century to high today.

Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) which, promotes tumor growth.

Cancer cells come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and Insulin Growth Factor also provide the signal to grow. The more insulin, the more cancer cells thrive.  Some cancers can mutate to enhance insulin.  Some forms of cancer take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.

The original article that I paraphrase from is profound and yet I am willing to bet it will have a rather un-profound effect on the population.  I took nine pages and drilled it down to 3 so you could avoid a visit to the endocrinologist and oncologist.  You might want to read this again.  My mother use to say to me as a 5 year old child, (that means 1960, way before the New York Times could review old research) “don’t eat sugar.” Of course she was ridiculed back then just by our neighbors who felt bad for me and gave me lots of junk food.  If the country is serious about saving trillions of health care dollars then this is the first issue that needs to be addressed. 

I’m politically conservative, but it is painful to listen to the politicians on the right bring out the Nanny State argument when curbing sugar consumption is brought up.  They outlaw drugs because they are addictive and dangerous.  Our food is more addictive and many more people die from it than they do from illegal drugs.  They will claim you have a choice and free will, but you don’t.  McDonalds doesn’t put 11 secret appetite stimulants into their food because they want to play fair.  They want you addicted.  This is one government intervention I might not mind although I’m sure it would get so watered down that we might be seeing commercials like this.  “New Coca Cola, with only a few thousand more calories of sugar, it’s good for you.”

I’m placing the link again to the greatest lecture I’ve seen on cancer.  It ties in with this.  If you want more information on how to combat food damage email me at info@gregmalakoff.com or visit my website www.gregmalakoff.com  

Cancer presentation link:  http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/william_li.html

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