Yesterday, I was at a friend’s baby shower. We were discussing the proposed ban on large soft drinks. And this being New York, everyone was highly educated—and highly opinionated—on the subject.
The underlying sentiment was pretty unanimous: “Don’t tell me what to do.” Basically, everyone agreed the government shouldn’t tell you what to eat. And they certainly shouldn’t tell you what not to eat, either.
I had to laugh quietly to myself. Because what no one seemed to realize is that the government already tells you what to eat and what not to eat. Constantly.
As a reader of mine, you’re already well aware of this sad fact. The government subsidizes huge portions of our food supply. So these foods end up being the cheapest. And hence, the ones the majority of Americans consume most. That’s why soy, wheat, corn, and sugar are all staples of the American diet.
Yet sugar causes six of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. And the government has been subsidizing this slaughter.
It may sound harsh. But someone needs to blow the whistle on this mess before it’s too late.
Meanwhile, the government bans illicit drugs, restricts the sale of alcohol, and bans cigarette smoking in most places. And people thought their civil liberties were being trampled when that legislation went into effect, too.
But did it save lives? Countless. And I don’t hear too many people complaining about these laws now, do you?
So, yes—I’d say it’s past time for a little government intervention when it comes to soda.
I mention this because two new studies came out recently. And, yet again, they exposed sugar’s role in two very serious, very deadly conditions—high blood pressure and cancer.
The first study showed that drinking just a single can of sugar-sweetened soda per day raised risk of hypertension by 6 percent. More specifically, it boosted average systolic blood pressure—that’s the top number—by 1.8 points within 18 months.
Now, this might not seem like such a big deal. So let me put it another way. If this country lowered its collective systolic blood pressure by just two points, stroke deaths would drop by 10 percent.
If America cut its diastolic pressure (the bottom number) by a similar amount, heart disease and stroke rates would drop by 6 percent and 15 percent respectively. That’s how powerful just a couple of blood pressure points are.
Yet even the so-called “experts” won’t get on board with banning the top source of sugar in the American diet—soda. The American Heart Association allows 36 ounces—or three cans—of soda per week in their “heart healthy” diet.
Honestly. There is nothing heart healthy about that.
But let me tell you about the second study now. Because those results are even scarier. This research showed that postmenopausal women who drink sugar-sweetened beverages are 78 percent more likely to develop endometrial cancer than those who don’t. And the association was dose-dependent. Which means the more soda a woman drank, the higher her risk.
Of course, the American Beverage Association chimed in with their two cents. “This study does not show that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption causes endometrial cancer,” they commented. “The Mayo Clinic states common risk factors as changes in female hormones, older age, obesity, and inherited genetic conditions—not sugar or beverage consumption.”
It’s obvious why the beverage industry would rail against this study. But citing the Mayo Clinic to do so? It’s infuriating. Primarily because it serves as a stark reminder that even a well-known, respected healthcare institution refuses to fully acknowledge how deadly sugar actually is.
Our love affair with soda has got to end. And you can do your part by drinking tap water. Or sparkling water. Or green tea. Because bottom line?
“Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and the risk of type I and type II endometrial cancer among postmenopausal women.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Dec;22(12):2384-94.