Category Archives: Metabolic Syndrome

CALORIE RESTRICTION

I was recently alerted to the video, “Eat, Fast, & Live Longer” through a newsletter I receive from VegSource.  The concept of elongating lifespan through calorie restriction  or intermittent fasting is fascinating.

“The CRON-diet (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition)[1] is a nutrient-rich, very low calorie diet[2] developed by Roy WalfordLisa Walford, and Brian M. Delaney.[3][4][5] The CRON-diet involves calorie restriction in the hope that the practice will improve health and retard aging, while still attempting to provide the recommended daily amounts of various nutrients. Other names include CR-dietLongevity diet, and Anti-Aging Plan. Several people, including the Walfords and Delaney, founded the CR Society International to promote the CRON-diet.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water and sometimes low-calorie drinks such as black coffee) and non-fasting.

There is evidence suggesting that intermittent fasting may have beneficial effects on the health and longevity of animals—including humans—that are similar to the effects of caloric restriction (CR). There is currently no consensus as to the degree to which this is simply due to fasting or due to an (often) concomitant overall decrease in calories, but recent studies have shown support for the former.[1][2] Alternate-day calorie restriction may prolong life span.[3] Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction are forms of dietary restriction (DR), which is sometimes referred to as dietary energy restriction (DER).

Scientific study of intermittent fasting in rats (and anecdotally in humans) was carried out at least as early as 1943.[4]

A specific form of intermittent fasting is alternate day fasting (ADF), also referred to as every other day fasting (EOD), or every other day feeding (EODF), a 48-hour routine typically composed of a 24-hour fast followed by a 24-hour non-fasting period.” – Wikipedia

While this is not a short video (clocking-in at around 1 hour), it is a very intriguing watch.

Have any of you tried intermittent fasting?  Any fasting experience?

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Filed under Cancer, Cholesterol, Cleansing, Diabetes, Education, Fat, Immune System, Metabolic Syndrome, Weight Issues

INSPIRING TEEN NUTRITARIAN

I subscribe to Dr. Fuhrman’s DiseaseProof newsletter and was impressed with one of their most recent posts.  It is so powerful to watch a teen take their health into their own hands…what an amazing guy!

Interview with a Teen Nutritarian: David

POSTED ON JANUARY 15, 2013 BY EMILY BOLLER

JUNE                               AUGUST                               DECEMBER

David is your typical, 14-year-old teenager that was severely addicted to the standard American diet. In fact, he was resistant to have anything to do with eating for health, even though his parents and siblings had embraced nutritarian eating and radically improved their health and quality of life because of it. However, on Father’s Day weekend this past summer David had a wake-up call; a frightening experience with dangerously high blood pressure and the telltale symptom of a TIA (transient ischemic attack); aka mini stroke. Today, six months later and 27 lbs lighter, he’s a changed person as a result of eating high-nutrient foods. Welcome to Disease Proof, David.

What was your life like before Father’s Day weekend?

My parents and siblings were nutritarians so there was always plenty of healthy food to eat, but I refused to eat it. At every chance I could get away from home I ate whatever junk food I could find, and without my mom knowing it I bought donuts, candy, and other stuff.  Because I wouldn’t eat “Fuhrman food’ as I called it, my mom didn’t force me to eat it because my dad didn’t think she should; after all, I wasn’t a little kid anymore. My mom wouldn’t prepare junk food so I learned to cook my own meals. I ate frozen pizzas and lasagna, macaroni and cheese, pot pies, and all kids of frozen processed meals. Even with that, there were many foods that she wouldn’t buy for me like processed cereals, milk, cheese, and butter.

How did you feel?

I didn’t feel well most of the time. It was hard for me to move around because I was tired and would get out of breath easily, so I didn’t exercise. I was always thirsty, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose; it was always stuffy.  Plus, because I was tired a lot I just slept whenever I could.

What was your wake-up call?

During a family crisis my mom requested no junk food be brought to our house. However, some thought nutritarian eating was extreme and felt sorry for me so they asked me for a list of my favorite foods anyway.  It was great!  I loved it because I could eat anything I wanted.  A week later, in the middle of the night, the entire right side of my body, including my leg, arm, and jaw was numb and tingly, and I was very scared. I woke my parents up, and my mom took my blood pressure and it was 158 / 108. The next day she contacted Dr. Fuhrman, and according to my symptoms he said that I had experienced a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or mini stroke that happens before a major stroke*. Immediately, on Father’s Day, I became a nutritarian. Within a week my blood pressure came down to a healthy range, but for several weeks I was scared to fall asleep at night, because I was afraid of having a stroke during the night.

How do you feel now?

I have a lot more energy. I’ve lost 27 lbs so far and my blood pressures are consistently around 113 / 72. I no longer have numbness or tingly feelings, and the best thing is I’m not afraid of falling asleep and having a stroke in the middle of the night.  I’m no longer thirsty all the time, tired, or have shortness of breath, and because of that I like to run, workout at the Y, and lift weights. Plus, I can now breathe through my nose for the first time that I can ever remember; I always had a stuffy nose. According to a blood test in June I was pre-diabetic, and now with nutritarian eating I won’t have to worry about getting diabetes. I just feel better all over, and my mom says that I’m happier and not grumpy anymore.

What would you tell kids who love junk food and hate even the thought of eating healthy?

Try nutritarian eating all the way for just one week. Do it cold turkey, 100%; no cheating. After that week is over then re-assess your opinion and see if it changes. I gutted it out mentally for one week, and it was hard, but I knew it would be worth it to feel better and be healthier. Now I’m glad I did.

I still sometimes like eating junk food when I’m away from home, but I know nutritarian eating is healthier for me, and I always feel better when I stick to it.

What are your favorite foods now?

My favorite foods are tomatoes, cucumbers, Honey Crisp apples, green peppers, snap peas, sautéed onions, hummus, and my mom’s Oatmeal/Almond Bars.

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Easy Oatmeal/Almond Bars

5-6 ripe bananas
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups raisins
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups chopped raw almonds
1 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl mash the bananas and then stir in remaining ingredients. Press mixture into the baking pan and bake for 40 min. Let cool. Cut into bars.

Congratulations David and keep up the great job!

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Click HERE to read the original post on Diseaseproof.com

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Filed under Children, Education, Interview, Metabolic Syndrome, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues

WEIGHT OF THE NATION – 4 Part Series

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My friend Anita sent me information about this new 4 part series about the health of our nation.  HBO will be airing this series to subscribers at no charge.  Check out the trailer and the fascinating infographics I downloaded from the main website.

Kudos to Kaiser for attempting to right this issue.  Between my dad’s double knee replacement and my mother’s hip replacement surgeries, I have spent a decent amount of time at the Santa Clara Kaiser recently and was impressed with their efforts to promote heath.  I feared the cafeteria food, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that I definitely had healthy vegan options within their cafeteria; the salad bar was wonderful and one day I even got vegan pho noodle soup (There were definitely unhealthy options there for those who wanted them though…I saw a LOT of fries making their way past the cashiers)!  Kaiser also had Farmer’s Markets in their courtyard while we were there and had nutritionists walking around the cafeteria talking to people about nutrition.  I see the effort they are making and only hope that they begin to lean even more toward plant-based diet recommendations.

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BOOK REVIEW – Healthy Eating Healthy World

In a word, Healthy Eating Healthy World is groundbreaking. Never before have I seen such a multi-faceted look at the power of plant-based nutrition. J. Morris Hicks (With Stanfield Hicks) examines the destructive nature of meat consumption on our environment as well as our personal health while also delving into the cruelty animals experience on factory farms, and the horrendous issue of human starvation throughout the world. Hicks successfully demonstrates the causal relationship between the SAD (Standard American Diet) and the aforementioned issues.

  • In all, raising livestock accounts for 78 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. -Page 72
  • To produce one kilo of potatoes requires 100 litres of water; to produce the same amount of beef requires 13,000 litres of water. -Page 78
  • [T]o feed a single person the typical Western diet (heavy with animal products) for a year requires 3.25 acres of arable land. To feed one vegan requires about 1/6 of an acre. -Page 109.

These facts force one to go inward and examine how one can in all good conscience eat the hamburger that contributes so strongly to the hunger of others.  If we were to use the feed given to animals to feed humans I have to think we would be moving in the direction of a solution.

While reading Healthy Eating Healthy World I was struck by the ease with which J. Morris Hicks was able to join together such a comprehensive amount of information with regards to plant-based eating. From the health benefits, to the scientific evidence behind those benefits, to Doug Lisle’s research on why we are so addicted to the very foods we need to be avoiding (The Pleasure Trap), to the HOWS of living a plant based lifestyle. So many books focus solely on the problems our world is facing, and while this book definitely explains those issues, the solutions are detailed as well.

  • In August 2010, for the first time ever, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they will pay for intensive diet and exercise programs developed under the Ornish and Pritikin brands for reducing cardiovascular event risk. -Page 17

When I read that I practically jumped for joy.  We are starting to see REAL solutions.  Nutrition-based healing vs. drug dependency is going to propel this nation toward health.  While medication can be lifesaving during acute illness, nutritional excellence can achieve true healing versus the masking of symptoms long-term medication provides.

Along those same lines, Hicks digs his heels into the inefficiency and corruption that exists within the health insurance and food industries.  We have hospitals charging $8 for a single Motrin (personal experience) and nutritional researchers being financed by the food industry itself.

  • [A]nother found 34% of the primary authors of 800 papers in molecular biology and medicine to be involved in patents, to serve on advisory committees, or to hold personal shares in companies that might benefit from the research. -Page 145 

I don’t know what the solution is, however if people are not aware of the problem, the solution to it will not be found.  For that reason I am thrilled that Hicks is bringing these issues to light.  

As I mentioned above, Hicks does take the time to explain HOW one can healthfully follow a whole food plant-based diet. 42 pages of the book are dedicated to educating the reader about nutrition and WHAT to eat.  My hope is that the reader will be inspired by what they have learned and push further into the subject matter by reading the works of Dr. McDougall, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

I highly recommend Healthy Eating Healthy World for those who are looking for a concise yet wonderfully in-depth and well-rounded book that truly does bring all of the issues into the same room.  These issues are truly interdependent.

 

To read my interview of J. Morris Hicks on Chic Vegan click HERE

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Books, Education, Farming, General Vegan, Metabolic Syndrome, Research, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues

DOUG LISLE EVENT – How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind

One of the superstars of healthy living, Doug Lisle PdD, is coming to Los Angeles on January 8, 2012, and you can hear him!

The topic of this talk is “How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind.”  This is a presentation you absolutely want to hear, if you can attend (I will be there and would love to meet you).

Dr. Lisle is the psychologist for the McDougall Wellness Program as well as True North Health.  He is the co-author of the bestseller, The Pleasure Trap, and a highly entertaining speaker.

The event takes place from 2pm to 5pm on Sunday, January 8, at the South Bay Adventist Church in Redondo Beach, CA.  Food at the event is catered by Chef AJ.

For more info and to purchase tickets, visit: www.EatUnprocessed.com or call 818-986-1325

THIS LECTURE WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE LIVE ON FORKS OVER KNIVES LIVESTREAM CHANNEL (CLICK HERE)

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FORKS OVER KNIVES

It is an exciting weekend for being vegan and / or learning how to become vegan!

I am beyond excited that the documentary Forks Over Knives opens tomorrow!!!  This documentary has received so much critical acclaim as it brings together two giants in the field of medicine who have spent their careers studying the effects of nutrition on health, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn.

 

FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

I recently read an interview of the Producer of the film, Brian Wendel, conducted by The Plant Based Dietician, Julieanna Hever, and thought you would be interested in it as well…

In this interview, Brian tells us about his experience making Forks Over Knives and then watching it blossom into a huge success…

JH: You went from commercial real estate straight into producing one of the most important documentaries of our time, Forks Over Knives, as your first film. What inspired you to take the leap?

BW: The evidence that diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and sometimes cancer, can be effectively prevented, and even reversed, by a whole foods plant-based diet is compelling. For whatever reason, the information wasn’t getting to the masses, so only a few people were benefiting from it. I thought making a feature film was an opportunity to change that, and doing something that would have a positive impact on people’s lives was something I always wanted to do.

JH: How do you feel about the outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the film?

BW: The response has been beyond what I had imagined. It’s rewarding. I think people see the potential in the concepts brought forward in the film as a real way to make our lives better.

JH: What are your ultimate goals for Forks Over Knives?

BW: I hope that the level of education about food and its impact on health will increase, and that as a result, people will lead more healthful lives. It turns out that the same diet that is good for human health, is compassionate to animals and less taxing to the environment, so it’s important to see improvements in these areas as well.

JH: Can you describe the message you are trying to relay by creating such a critical piece?

BW: The message is that there is evidence that there’s something very specific we can do to greatly reduce our suffering from degenerative diseases. At a time when we’re trying to find solutions to difficult problems, it’s good to know that there may be one at hand—especially something that is simple.

JH: What was it like working with a healthy handful of the most innovative, influential scientists of our generation?

BW: Given my passion for the subject, there are no individuals I would have rather worked with than Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn. Getting to spend as much time with them as we did, and getting to know them personally, was an experience that is difficult to describe in words.

JH: What was your biggest challenge in making the film?

BW: The biggest challenge was figuring out how to take a vast amount of information along with a significant number of stories, and making into a presentation of less than 96 minutes. There’s a lot of material that didn’t make it in. We realized that the film represents more the beginning of a discussion.

JH: Do you intend to continue making documentary films with a similar message?

BW: Right now I’m focused on releasing the film, an undertaking that is quite substantial. I do, though, like the idea of making another documentary film.

CLICK HERE for showtimes.

This film will change your life!

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Filed under Cancer, Diabetes, Education, General Vegan, Interview, Metabolic Syndrome, Osteoporosis, pH, Protein, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues

IS SUGAR TOXIC?

I firmly believe that sugar is toxic…and addictive.  Gary Taubes has done an amazing job with this article.   It is LONG, but well worth the read.  I have given you exerpts from it below.  To read the article in full click here.  I also suggest you watch Robert Lustig’s lecture.  To do so click here.

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IS SUGAR TOXIC?

By GARY TAUBES

April 13, 2011

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 800,000 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.

Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.

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 gray. 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.”

If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.

This brings us to the salient question: Can sugar possibly be as bad as Lustig says it is?

If I didn’t buy this argument myself, I wouldn’t be writing about it here. And I also have a disclaimer to acknowledge. I’ve spent much of the last decade doing journalistic research on diet and chronic disease — some of the more contrarian findings, on dietary fat, appeared in this magazine —– and I have come to conclusions similar to Lustig’s.

Lustig’s argument, however, is not about the consumption of empty calories — and biochemists have made the same case previously, though not so publicly. It is that sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.

The phrase Lustig uses when he describes this concept is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different.

The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

In animals, or at least in laboratory rats and mice, it’s clear that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals. It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers.

If what happens in laboratory rodents also happens in humans, and if we are eating enough sugar to make it happen, then we are in trouble.

Th[e] correlation between sugar consumption and diabetes is what defense attorneys call circumstantial evidence. It’s more compelling than it otherwise might be, though, because the last time sugar consumption jumped markedly in this country, it was also associated with a diabetes epidemic.

In the early 20th century, many of the leading authorities on diabetes in North America and Europe (including Frederick Banting, who shared the 1923 Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin) suspected that sugar causes diabetes based on the observation that the disease was rare in populations that didn’t consume refined sugar and widespread in those that did. In 1924, Haven Emerson, director of the institute of public health at Columbia University, reported that diabetes deaths in New York City had increased as much as 15-fold since the Civil War years, and that deaths increased as much as fourfold in some U.S. cities between 1900 and 1920 alone. This coincided, he noted, with an equally significant increase in sugar consumption — almost doubling from 1890 to the early 1920s — with the birth and subsequent growth of the candy and soft-drink industries.

Emerson’s argument was countered by Elliott Joslin, a leading authority on diabetes, and Joslin won out. But his argument was fundamentally flawed. Simply put, it went like this: The Japanese eat lots of rice, and Japanese diabetics are few and far between; rice is mostly carbohydrate, which suggests that sugar, also a carbohydrate, does not cause diabetes. But sugar and rice are not identical merely because they’re both carbohydrates. Joslin could not know at the time that the fructose content of sugar affects how we metabolize it.

Joslin was also unaware that the Japanese ate little sugar. In the early 1960s, the Japanese were eating as little sugar as Americans were a century earlier, maybe less, which means that the Japanese experience could have been used to support the idea that sugar causes diabetes. Still, with Joslin arguing in edition after edition of his seminal textbook that sugar played no role in diabetes, it eventually took on the aura of undisputed truth.

Until Lustig came along, the last time an academic forcefully put forward the sugar-as-toxin thesis was in the 1970s, when John Yudkin, a leading authority on nutrition in the United Kingdom, published a polemic on sugar called “Sweet and Dangerous.” Through the 1960s Yudkin did a series of experiments feeding sugar and starch to rodents, chickens, rabbits, pigs and college students. He found that the sugar invariably raised blood levels of triglycerides (a technical term for fat), which was then, as now, considered a risk factor for heart disease. Sugar also raised insulin levels in Yudkin’s experiments, which linked sugar directly to type 2 diabetes. Few in the medical community took Yudkin’s ideas seriously, largely because he was also arguing that dietary fat and saturated fat were harmless. This set Yudkin’s sugar hypothesis directly against the growing acceptance of the idea, prominent to this day, that dietary fat was the cause of heart disease, a notion championed by the University of Minnesota nutritionist Ancel Keys.

A common assumption at the time was that if one hypothesis was right, then the other was most likely wrong. Either fat caused heart disease by raising cholesterol, or sugar did by raising triglycerides. “The theory that diets high in sugar are an important cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease does not have wide support among experts in the field, who say that fats and cholesterol are the more likely culprits,” as Jane E. Brody wrote in The Times in 1977.

At the time, many of the key observations cited to argue that dietary fat caused heart disease actually support the sugar theory as well. During the Korean War, pathologists doing autopsies on American soldiers killed in battle noticed that many had significant plaques in their arteries, even those who were still teenagers, while the Koreans killed in battle did not. The atherosclerotic plaques in the Americans were attributed to the fact that they ate high-fat diets and the Koreans ate low-fat. But the Americans were also eating high-sugar diets, while the Koreans, like the Japanese, were not.

Another question still needs to be asked…[W]hat are the chances that sugar is actually worse than Lustig says it is?

One of the diseases that increases in incidence with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is cancer. This is why I said earlier that insulin resistance may be a fundamental underlying defect in many cancers, as it is in type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not controversial. What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.

This goes along with two other observations that have led to the well-accepted idea that some large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles. This means they could actually be prevented if we could pinpoint exactly what the problem is and prevent or avoid that.

One observation is that 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. As with diabetes, this observation was accompanied by a vigorous debate about whether those increases could be explained solely by the aging of the population and the use of new diagnostic techniques or whether it was really the incidence of cancer itself that was increasing. “By the 1930s,” as a 1997 report by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research explained, “it was apparent that age-adjusted death rates from cancer were rising in the U.S.A.,” which meant that the likelihood of any particular 60-year-old, for instance, dying from cancer was increasing, even if there were indeed more 60-years-olds with each passing year.

The second observation was that malignant cancer, like diabetes, was a relatively rare disease in populations that didn’t eat Western diets, and in some of these populations it appeared to be virtually nonexistent. In the 1950s, malignant cancer among the Inuit, for instance, was still deemed sufficiently rare that physicians working in northern Canada would publish case reports in medical journals when they did diagnose a case.

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

As it was explained to me by Craig Thompson, who has done much of this research and is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Thompson believes that 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.

But some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.

“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do.

Gary Taubes (gataubes@gmail.com) is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation independent investigator in health policy and the author of “Why We Get Fat.” Editor: Vera Titunik (v.titunik-MagGroup@nytimes.com).

Image courtesy health.howstuffworks.com

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