People demonize food additives all the time. Just see monosodium glutamate, as just one example. And there’s high fructose corn syrup, a sugar that is blamed for everything from cancer to diabetes to climate change. OK, maybe not climate change.
High fructose corn syrup is just sugar, but because it has a complicated name, it must be bad. It’s part of the “chemophobia,” the fear of anything that sounds like a chemical.
The so-called Food Babe has made a lot of money endorsing a belief that all chemicals are evil. Of course, such claims ignore the simple fact that all life, the air, and water are made of chemicals.
They want us to believe that man-made chemicals are more dangerous than “natural” chemicals, but that betrays several things about science:
Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
Nature isn’t always better.
And high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is considered one of the evil “chemicals” that are destroying humanity. But is it? Let’s answer that question.
One of the most pernicious myths about food is that somehow eating sugar causes diabetes. I even was watching a TV comedy where the character was going to dig into a cake, and another character says, “I’m getting diabetes (see Note 1) just by watching all of that sugar.”
No. Sugar is not linked directly to diabetes, so sure go ahead, eat that delicious, rich, sweet chocolate birthday cake. However (see Note 2), there might be some very indirect links between eating too much sugar and diabetes, but not as a result of eating sugar alone.
As you probably would guess, when I read articles in science, I tend to emphasize research on vaccines, cancer, and a few other related issues. There’s so much information out there, one has to focus or there will not be enough time to watch college football games on Saturday. For years, one of the more popular questions I have seen is about sugar and cancer – does eating sugar cause or promote cancer?
A recent paper in Nature Communications seemed to encourage the people who are pushing an association between sugar and cancer. Of course, our usual suspects of pseudoscience and false healthcare jumped on board with their clickbait headlines trying to scare everyone about sugar and cancer.
But what are the facts about sugar and cancer. Should you avoid eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates? Well, probably, but not because of cancer.
That’s why we are here. To separate the science from the pseudoscience, we need to look at this more carefully. What we’re going to see is that you’re not going to get cancer from putting a couple of teaspoons of it in your coffee. And you’re not going to cure cancer by avoid sugar. Sugar and cancer is much more complicated than that. Continue reading “Sugar and cancer – examining the science behind the claims”
I am generally skeptical of any claim that anything causes cancer. That doesn’t mean I reject every claim that something or another causes cancer – smoking, sunlight, obesity, viruses, genes have all been linked to certain cancers. Now, there’s a claim that sugar causes cancer – is there anything there?