Science writer Gary Taubes is back, this time with a piece about an insidious but plentiful dietary compound that in all likelihood is far more dangerous than fat and red meat: sugar. His recent article in the New York Times Magazine, "Is Sugar Toxic?" combs through the research to find out how much is too much. Americans, by the way, eat a lot.
His digging shows that if sugar is toxic, it is of the "chronic" versus "acute" form, which means that while humans can tolerate high sugar in a meal or two, it might blind them to the impact it has over thousands of meals (which actually transpires over a period of mere months.) His investigation also shows that diabetes and metabolic syndrome are very likely triggered by fat we can't see: fat that accumulates in the liver as it attempts to metabolize large amounts of sweetened food. There's even a potential link to many common cancers: elevated insulin and related hormones (needed to process sugar-laden diets) appear to feed and accelerate tumor growth.
Perhaps most telling in his article: the researchers who study the connection between cancer and sugars (here we are talking about the added stuff, not what is naturally occurring in fruits and other foods) have tried to eliminate it from their own diets. They admit that to them sugar is "scary."