Interesting perspectives on health:
What’s worse for your health: a candy bar or a joint?
The new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll produced a surprising answer. Sugar. When Americans were asked their opinion on the most harmful of four substances, tobacco (49%) and alcohol (24%) came in first and second place, followed by sugar (15%) and marijuana. Only 8% said marijuana was the most harmful substance.
Interesting. Presumably this reflects some combination of realized and potential harm - if marijuana use were more widespread it might (or might not!) be associated with more deaths, such as from traffic accidents.
However, based on CDC stats tobacco owns the top spot:
Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year.1,6 Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following:1
- More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
I think a case could be made that sugar caught a break by coming in behind alcohol. Here is the CDC on alcohol:
There are approximately 88,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States.1 This makes excessive alcohol use the 3r d leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation.2
Alcohol is only third? What is second?
Per the footnote, from a Mar 2004 study:
The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (365 000 deaths; 15.2%) [corrected], and alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%).
So how many of those 365,000 deaths due to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle can be attributed to sugar? If sugar accounts for at least 25% of this obesity/lifestyle problem (and it might!) then that puts it ahead of alcohol on a total deaths basis.
Since you ask, we also see this:
illicit use of drugs (17 000).
That is all illicit drugs, not just marijuana. Good call by the vox populi.
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY... Sugar was one of the foundations of the Trade Triangle that included bringing slaves to the Western Hemisphere, so its long term impact on Western society began a few centuries back and continues today.