August 9, 2012

You Get The Picture: Bittersweet sweets

By Magen McCrarey
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Who knew those sparkling granules of sugar embedded into five of the top 10 sources of calories for Americans were a deadly threat to not only our cholesterol, but our overall well-being?  I found out the sickening truth that sugar feeds cancer cells and tumors the other night as I watched — glued to the television — 60 minutes with my grandfather.

The calm and collective reporter relayed the information in an easy, monotone voice as he interviewed a few researchers, all of whom had a thing or two to say about America’s love for sugar.  I know many of you are thinking to yourselves that there’s no way the most legal pleasure-rewarding item you can consume is deadly — because I sure was.

According to the American Cancer Society, the amount of sugar that should be consumed in a whole day is located in less than one can of soda.  I cut out soda “pop” years ago as a way to lose weight, but I never thought it could mean life or death in the future.  It’s common knowledge that glucose (sugar) is needed to feed the body’s organs, but if you drink a soda everyday, nine times out of 10, you will begin to drink more than one — maybe even three — throughout the work day.  This is because your body has built up a tolerance to the sugars like a drug.  In fact, it works like a drug within your brain, rewarding the pleasure centers of your brain with dopamine.  

Cancer’s sweet tooth also is as insatiable as your appetite.  Glucose stimulates growth in tumors, and all the left-over glucose from your organs goes straight them.  That’s not to say that everyone has a tumor but, if you do, extra sugars are like cigarettes to a smoker with emphysema.  

America’s reward system is primarily based upon sweets, if you think about it.  I’m not suggesting that candles should be shoved through whole-wheat bread to be blown out for birthdays, but be aware of portion sizes when it comes to sugar-saturated treats.  Also be aware of the sugars your children consume in their juice boxes and “healthy” sports drinks.  

I took this disappointing truth to heart, because my 89-year-old grandfather who was sitting directly behind me in his recliner has a growing tumor.  He had the option in 2010 whether or not to do surgery, and he opted to just let it take its course.  

As grandpa’s “little girl,” I’d rather eat a pickle than a donut any day, but I’m definitely going to keep a watch on how much excessive sugar I intake, and I hope you do as well.