On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 3 million times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology. Please watch the following video and also refer to following articles:
The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”
It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of grey. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”
High-fructose corn syrup is the primary source of calories in the United States. In addition to containing mercury, a known carcinogen, cancer cells actually feed on high-fructose corn syrup after it is metabolized by the liver. A recent study, published in the Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, examined the link between refined sugar and cancer. The results add further evidence to the reports of many health experts and scientific studies that have drawn the connection between excess sugar consumption and the development of cancer.
The researchers highlighted the numerous ways in which fructose directly contributes to cancer risk and other health problems, including:
Altered cellular metabolism
Increased production of free radicals
According to Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, as much as 80 percent of all cancers are “driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells.”
Similar research published in the journal Cancer Research found that the way in which sugar is metabolized stimulates cancer growth. The researchers reported:
Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different … These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation.
What is even more concerning is that the scientists conducting the research used pancreatic cancer cells, widely considered to be the most deadly form of cancer. The discovery was monumental because not only did the researchers prove that tumor cells feed on sugar (glucose), but the tumor cells used fructose for cell division in order to speed up the growth and spread of the cancer. Fructose consumption actually led to a massive increase in tumor cell growth and proliferation way beyond that of glucose.
This cancer-feeding fructose is what the majority of Americans are consuming on a daily basis, to the point where high-fructose corn syrup is their number one source of calories. Even children are consuming excessive amounts of sugar in juice boxes, candy, and even ‘healthy’ sports beverages. The amount is so extreme that the average American consumes around 150 grams of sugar each day; whereas, many experts believe that the number should be around 15 grams per day or lower to prevent cancer.
The ubiquitous nature of fructose is so apparent in the food supply that it can be found in one form or another in 5 of the top 10 sources of calories in America, according to a USDA report. As cancer rates continue to explode, it is vital that dietary changes are made involving the emission of fructose from the global food supply. Natural sweeteners like Stevia contain 0 calories, and have been found to prevent and reverse diseases like diabetes. It is time we revolutionize the food supply and utilize natural sweeteners as tools to reduce cancer and obesity rates worldwide, naturally.