Just How Bad for You Is Sugar?

Stay away from all that holiday candy. This week, The New York Times Magazine takes an in-depth look at the harm of sugar—real sugar, not the headline-grabbing high fructose corn syrup—and determines that it could indeed be as harmful as cigarettes or alcohol. “Sugar scares me,” said Lewis Cantley, the director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School. While high fructose corn syrup has grabbed headlines as being the culprit behind the obesity epidemic, Why We Get Fat author Gary Taubes focuses on how Western-style diets—packed in the natural stuff—could be responsible for the increase in cancer rates in the past 50 years. Some scientists suggest the trend could be reversible: Two researchers are conducting a study asking teenagers and pregnant women to only consume sugars found in fruits and vegetables for two weeks, since the scientists are confident metabolism can change in such a short amount of time.