Sugar Is a Toxin, Scientists Say

Staff Writer
New resarch says the sweet stuff is slowly killing us, one teaspoon at a time

Should sugar be considered a toxin to the body like tobaco and alcohol? Is sugar as addictive as cocaine? That’s what researchers are saying about the sweet stuff, as more studies now link it back to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Last night’s 60 Minutes investigated further into the health claims behind sugar, and exactly why it’s so bad for you. Dietitian Cynthia Sass compared a person’s bloodstream to a cup of water, and said adding sugar to that water — or blood — makes it a thick, syrupy mess. When that happens, "Your heart has to work harder to pump that thicker fluid through your system," she said. "It puts stress on the heart. It puts stress on the arteries. It increases blood pressure. It attacks the kidneys [and] the liver."

And it’s the large amount of sugar that we eat every day that’s causing problems. Each day, Americans consume about 22 tablespoons of sugar — which equals nearly 130 pounds each year. The main source of sugar we eat: fructose, mostly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. What happened, said Dr. Robert Lusting, is that in the 1970s, the food industry had to respond to public health critics by removing the fatty components of food. Since then, to make food taste better, the industry has replaced fat with corn syrup.

Now, Sass and Lusting are taking on the industry to save the public from a true health crisis. Said Lusting, "You have to do big things and you have to do them across the board. Tobacco and alcohol are perfect examples. I think sugar belongs in this exact same wastebasket."