Is sugar a dangerous drug? This guy thinks so.

  • #1
18,668
8,634
Sugar, the most dangerous drug of this time

Paul van der Velpen, the head of Amsterdam's health service, the Dutch capital city where the sale of cannabis is legalised, wants to see sugar tightly regulated.

Some analysis/commentary
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...and-the-most-dangerous-drug-of-the-times.html


Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug. There is an important role for government. The use of sugar should be discouraged. And users should be made aware of the dangers.

This may seem exaggerated and far-fetched, but sugar is the most dangerous drug of this time and obtain. Still everywhere and easy

Original statement

http://www.ggd.nl/actueel/columns/2013/9/12/suiker-de-gevaarlijkste-drug-van-deze-tijd/ (Dutch, might need to translate)
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
D H
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Insights Author
15,415
687
He's not alone. Dr. Richard Cohen is of the strong opinion that sugar is addictive and harmful.
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/sugar/cohen-text
Why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? Why are more and more Americans obese? Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.​
 
  • Like
Likes 1 person
  • #3
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
3,511
4,182
Last year, Dr. Robert Lustig and colleagues from UCSF published an essay in Nature arguing that sugar should be regulated like ethanol:
Authorities consider sugar as 'empty calories' — but there is nothing empty about these calories. A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly. If international bodies are truly concerned about public health, they must consider limiting fructose — and its main delivery vehicles, the added sugars HFCS and sucrose — which pose dangers to individuals and to society as a whole.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7383/full/482027a.html
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Likes 1 person
  • #4
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,598
9,462
Ah, NUTS! Now you're telling me that my addiction to Classic Coke is not only going to rot my teeth, it's going to mess with my liver? I don't want to know this :smile:
 
  • #5
SteamKing
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
12,798
1,670
He's not alone. Dr. Richard Cohen is of the strong opinion that sugar is addictive and harmful.
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/sugar/cohen-text
Why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? Why are more and more Americans obese? Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.​

Eating more and doing less physical activity wouldn't have any bearing would it?

People used to do a lot of stuff outdoors. You cruise thru many neighborhoods on absolutely gorgeous days and find not a soul in sight. Everyone is inside, talking on their phones (you don't have to physically go next door, or even to the next room, to talk to someone), playing a game on the computer (same comment as about the phone), watching tube, crashed, whatever. Work, except for manual labor, is the same. You don't need to leave your office or cubicle even to deliver a memo. You can email it to the next cubicle as easy as sending it around the world.

Honestly, with all these scientist types, you think on the first day of PhD. school they have all of their common sense removed.
 
  • #6
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,955
620
Well now wait a minute. How are they defining the term "drug"?
 
  • #7
Pythagorean
Gold Member
4,292
278
Whatever you do, do not get sugar in your DNA.
 
  • #8
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,598
9,462
Whatever you do, do not get sugar in your DNA.

In my case, I think it's probably too late. I've been guzzling Classic Coke for 50+ years and I'm pretty well saturated with caffeine and sugar. :smile:
 
  • #9
175
6
Whatever you do, do not get sugar in your DNA.

Bit of hyperbole, don't you think. People have been eating sugar from ages. The fructose and sucrose added to processed food is a recent invention(50 or 100 yrs). Why even alcohol is distilled from sugars.
 
  • #10
jim mcnamara
Mentor
4,585
3,466
ribose is a sugar - it was a joke. I liked it anyway....
 
  • #11
SteamKing
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
12,798
1,670
I think the researchers are trying to control for one variable, namely sugar intake, when the mechanism for adult onset diabetes is not too clear. Is it just the frequency and amount of sugar intake? Is it the type of sugar intake? Is it a combination of the intake of different types of sugars?

The diet of the average person now is much more complex, if not more varied, than it was a century ago. There are more additives, preservatives, taste, texture, and color enhancers used in the food supply now. What sorts of interactions do these materials have with themselves, let alone body chemistry? Who knows?
 
  • #13
Excessive sugar intake is bad especially when the insulin-magnesium metabolism team is dysfunctional. Not bad if that doctor interferes with survival of the fittest or natural selection to spare fellow humans.

For that matter, I would appreciate if they will convert sugar into ethanol via fermentation before they give it to me :D
 
Last edited:
  • #14
1,105
25
This is a really good paper on metabolic flux and cell growth:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21982705

Wouldn't doubt it at all that 50 years from now we will have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that sugar intake is in fact more harmful to your health than fat.

The hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP) behaves as a sort of biosensor that responds to intracellular metabolite concentrations. When flux starts going out of whack you get problems:

http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/290/1/E1

(in case you didn't know, 2-5% of glycolysis is diverted down the HBP).
 
  • #15
Evo
Mentor
23,551
3,243
Well now wait a minute. How are they defining the term "drug"?
Yeah, it's actually a bit shameful, isn't it? Anything to sell a book, eh?
 
  • #16
D H
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Insights Author
15,415
687
Well now wait a minute. How are they defining the term "drug"?
Yeah, it's actually a bit shameful, isn't it? Anything to sell a book, eh?
How are they defining the term "drug"? It's not to sell a book.

Drugs cause observable changes in behaviors such as bingeing and craving. sensitization. They induce physiological changes such as withdrawal and sensitization. Finally, they cause changes in brain chemistry, particularly increased opioid and dopamine levels.

Sugar hits each and every one of these characteristics.

Here's the first of the 46,800 hits on "sugar addiction" at scholar.google.com:

Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel, Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake, Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008; 32(1): 20–39. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/

For the remaining 46,799, go to scholar.google.com. Granted, not all of them are valid journal references, but a good chunk are.
 
  • #18
MathematicalPhysicist
Gold Member
4,677
362
Well isn't life about dying in the end, or you prefer to live forever doing the same thing over and over and over... again.

My simple argument, let people have control over their life, if they want to smoke cannabis then let them, if they want to drink apple cider let them.

Eventually everyone will die someway or another.
 
  • #19
D H
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Insights Author
15,415
687
Actually Robert Lustig is selling a book about it. https://www.amazon.com/dp/159463100X/?tag=pfamazon01-20
He's far from the one who has done the research into whether sugar has all of the features of a "drug", and he's also far from the only one who has done research into how sugar is metabolized and whether it is harmful. That research has been ongoing for 30 years. Do you really think he orchestrated those decades of research just so he could sell a book?


My simple argument, let people have control over their life, if they want to smoke cannabis then let them, if they want to drink apple cider let them.
Since I've made my position known on the war on drugs (an utter failure whose costs to society vastly outpaces the benefits to society), it would be a bit hypocritical on my part to argue that sugar should be made into a controlled substance. It won't work.

If the research is correct, then perhaps sugar should be treated like alcohol: Something we tolerate because the cure (prohibition) is far worse than the disease, and something we tax because taxation discourages use to some extent and because this would form quite the sizable (albeit regressive) revenue stream.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #20
Evo
Mentor
23,551
3,243
He's far from the one who has done the research into whether sugar has all of the features of a "drug", and he's also far from the only one who has done research into how sugar is metabolized and whether it is harmful. That research has been ongoing for 30 years. Do you really think he orchestrated those decades of research just so he could sell a book?
He has a video too. :redface: No of course not, I was referring to Ygggdrasil

https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=4522752&postcount=3

And DrClaude's posts
https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=4523475&postcount=12


If the research is correct, then perhaps sugar should be treated like alcohol: Something we tolerate because the cure (prohibition) is far worse than the disease, and something we tax because taxation discourages use to some extent and because this would form quite the sizable (albeit regressive) revenue stream.
There are reasons to use small amounts of sugar in cooking, for example adding it to yeast when making bread. I personally rarely use any type of sugar, corn syrup, etc... just because I don't care for things that taste sweet. It did not prevent me from developing type 2 diabetes. Turns out it was high ferritin serum levels that caused it. We're expecting that once my iron is under control, I will no longer have diabetes. (my diabetes was only because they lowered the level at which they now consider a person diabetic, before the level was lowered, I was not diabetic).

Causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

In prediabetes — which can lead to type 2 diabetes — and in type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into your cells where it's needed for energy, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although as in type 1 diabetes, it's believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2. Being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with type 2 is overweight.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/DS01121/DSECTION=causes

I would like to see the addition of sugar to so many processed foods stopped. When fat was lowered in many foods, they increased the sugars.
 
Last edited:
  • #21
26
2
My simple argument, let people have control over their life, if they want to smoke cannabis then let them, if they want to drink apple cider let them.

Eventually everyone will die someway or another.

True. This is one reason that I don't agree with the complete ban of recreational drugs (I'm including sugar as recreational). I do, however, believe that they should be WELL regulated. While we all die eventually regardless of our choices, our diets and habits can greatly effect the quality of life that one lives.

There is an ethical dilemma with the freedom to decide. Sure, in one way it's wrong to force a diet on someone, but if a certain diet can lead to health complications that require treatment, it's a different story. Add in the fact that a substance like sugar is loaded into products and distributed to the masses, it can lead to some serious problems.

I really wish there were more alternatives for people that didn't want a high sugar diet, or healthier diets in general. I'm not saying that it's unreasonably difficult to eat healthy, because I manage fine, but there is definitely a bigger demand for sugary foods.
 
  • #22
546
10
Does this ban on sugars include sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame?
 
  • #23
D H
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Insights Author
15,415
687
No one is proposing a ban on sugar. I doubt such a ban could ever be enacted, and it wouldn't work if such a ban was enacted.

Can sugar be classified as a "drug"? Yes. Look at the research. Is it a "dangerous drug"? That is a very different question. Calling it a "dangerous drug" is hyperbole to me. Prolonged excessive consumption can cause all kinds of health problems, and some people apparently cannot resist the temptation.

Even with that, that does not constitute a "dangerous drug" to me. Perhaps I'll change my mind when I read about people confronting others at gunpoint with the demand "give me some sugar!"
 
  • #24
MathematicalPhysicist
Gold Member
4,677
362
True. This is one reason that I don't agree with the complete ban of recreational drugs (I'm including sugar as recreational). I do, however, believe that they should be WELL regulated. While we all die eventually regardless of our choices, our diets and habits can greatly effect the quality of life that one lives.

There is an ethical dilemma with the freedom to decide. Sure, in one way it's wrong to force a diet on someone, but if a certain diet can lead to health complications that require treatment, it's a different story. Add in the fact that a substance like sugar is loaded into products and distributed to the masses, it can lead to some serious problems.

I really wish there were more alternatives for people that didn't want a high sugar diet, or healthier diets in general. I'm not saying that it's unreasonably difficult to eat healthy, because I manage fine, but there is definitely a bigger demand for sugary foods.

The reason people need sugar is because they need energy to work, if I didn't need to work I would be fine with just plain water instead of juices which I drink.
Just like there are people that drink five cups of coffee a day (in maths and physics departments it seems to be the norm).
 
  • #25
MathematicalPhysicist
Gold Member
4,677
362
No one is proposing a ban on sugar. I doubt such a ban could ever be enacted, and it wouldn't work if such a ban was enacted.

Can sugar be classified as a "drug"? Yes. Look at the research. Is it a "dangerous drug"? That is a very different question. Calling it a "dangerous drug" is hyperbole to me. Prolonged excessive consumption can cause all kinds of health problems, and some people apparently cannot resist the temptation.

Even with that, that does not constitute a "dangerous drug" to me. Perhaps I'll change my mind when I read about people confronting others at gunpoint with the demand "give me some sugar!"

I am quite sure Homer Simpson did such a thing in of the numerous episodes of the Simpsons.
 
  • #26
36,042
7,977
I'm reading "The Great Cholesterol Myth" - Jonny Bowden and Steven Sinatra (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1592335217/?tag=pfamazon01-20). Bowden is a PhD nutritionist and Sinatra is a cardiologist.

The main thrust of the book is that much of what we've heard about cholesterol is not borne out by numerous studies done over the past 40 or more years, and that millions of people have been prescribed statin drugs that do little to reduce the occurrence of heart disease and can have terrible side effects (e.g., memory loss, dementia, muscle soreness).

Bowden and Sinatra make that point that what we should be looking at is not cholesterol per se, but at the amount of sugar we eat, stress in our lives, smoking, and processed carbohydrates. I think there's another item on their list, but I don't have the book at hand right now.

I remember reading back in the 70s that the average American ate around 100 lb. of sugar per year, which works out to about 1/3 lb a day. According to this book, the average is maybe double that now or maybe more (I don't recall the exact figure). Many foods that are described as "heart-healthy" have had their fats reduced, and replaced with more sugar, including the high-fructose type.

I'm about halfway through the book, and pick it up sporadically. When I'm finished reading it, I plan to scan through it again, marking the things that seem most important.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #27
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,980
4,696
There is a newer video of a seminar given by Lustig at Berkeley lab. He describes why, chemically and biologically, there is no difference between sucrose and fructose, when compared to glucose.




Considering his reputation and his track record, I find him to be quite a credible source. And certainly, one doesn't get invited to present such a seminar at Berkeley lab if one is a crank.

Zz.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Likes 1 person
  • #28
175
6
So correct me, if i am wrong. It seems , major problem with current diet is with amount of sugar added to food. More important , the type of sugar (bad sugar) which is intentionally added to food i.e. fructose. So the traditional food grains (wheat, rice etc) are better than fructose. .
 
  • #29
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
3,511
4,182
So correct me, if i am wrong. It seems , major problem with current diet is with amount of sugar added to food. More important , the type of sugar (bad sugar) which is intentionally added to food i.e. fructose. So the traditional food grains (wheat, rice etc) are better than fructose.

Yes, it appears that fructose is the main culprit behind many of the negative health effects of sugar and other carbohydrates. While "traditional food grains" that contain complex carbohydrates (starch) are better because they do not contain fructose, excess glucose is converted in to fructose in the liver, so glucose-rich foods can also contribute to fructose-mediated toxicity.

Interestingly, two recent papers looked at the role of fructose in metabolic syndrome by creating genetically engineered mice lacking the enzyme ketohexokinase (KHK). These mice are unable to metabolize fructose and as a result, seem more resistant to obesity and the other negative health effects of high sugar and high carbohydrate diets:

"Ishimoto and colleagues set out to directly assess the role of fructose metabolism on features of metabolic syndrome, using mice lacking KHK and, as such, incapable of processing fructose. Their findings are consistent with those of several previous studies: wild-type mice fed a western diet (one that is high in fat and fructose, in which the fructose comes from sucrose) developed severe fatty liver and liver inflammation (disorders collectively known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) along with liver fibrosis. By contrast, KHK-deficient mice fed the same diet were protected from liver inflammation and fibrosis, and developed only mild fatty liver. Because the authors demonstrate that the mutant and wild-type mice had equivalent caloric intake, the protection afforded by the mutant animals' inability to process fructose is direct evidence that this sugar has a role in exacerbating specific features of metabolic syndrome.

Lanaspa et al. take the matter a step further, examining the effect of carbohydrate-rich diets devoid of fructose in KHK-deficient mice. Intriguingly, these animals were also protected from the adverse effects of excess glucose consumption. This makes sense, given that in the liver the polyol pathway converts excess glucose into fructose, which is stored as fat only in the presence of KHK. In fact, the authors validate the dependence of fructose synthesis on this pathway in mice lacking the polyol-pathway enzyme aldose reductase; these animals were also protected from glucose-induced fatty liver."
(http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v502/n7470/full/502181a.html)

Here's the references to the two papers:
Ishimoto, T. et al. 2013. High-fat and high-sucrose (western) diet induces steatohepatitis that is dependent on fructokinase. Hepatology, 58: 1632. doi:10.1002/hep.26594
Lanaspa, M. A. et al. 2013. Endogenous fructose production and metabolism in the liver contributes to the development of metabolic syndrome. Nature Commun. 4: 2434. doi:10.1038/ncomms3434
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Related Threads on Is sugar a dangerous drug? This guy thinks so.

  • Last Post
Replies
21
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
8K
Replies
5
Views
15K
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
13K
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
Top