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Sugar and Cancer

While it’s no secret that consumption of too much added sugar is not healthy, millions of women are still addicted to sugar (without knowing or thinking about life threatening risks). Sugar can lead to dangerous diseases. World Health Organization guidelines suggest consuming no more than 10% of total daily calories from added sugar.

Dr Kris Gunnars analyzed several scientific studies and published “10 Disturbing reasons why sugar is bad for you”:

  1. Added sugar contains no essential nutrients and is bad for your teeth;
  2. Added sugar is high in fructose, which can overload your liver;
  3. Overloading the liver with fructose can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease;
  4. Sugar can cause insulin resistance, a stepping stone towards metabolic syndrome and diabetes;
  5. The insulin resistance can progress to type ii diabetes;
  6. Sugar can give you cancer;
  7. Due to its effects on hormones and the brain, sugar has unique fat-promoting effects;
  8. Because it causes massive dopamine release in the brain, sugar is highly addictive;
  9. Sugar is a leading contributor to obesity in both children and adults;
  10. It ain’t the fat… it’s sugar that raises your cholesterol and gives you heart disease.

During decades hundreds of research projects tried to find connections and correlations of sugar and cancer. Scientists noted that cancer cells have a voracious appetite for sugar. In 1924 the Nobel Prize winner Dr Otto Warburg noted that cancer cells generate energy in a way that differs from normal cells, in a process called glycolysis. In 1966 Dr Otto Warburg mentioned that the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.

Sugar and Cancer

Sugar and cancer are chained in a death grip. More and more experts pay a special attention to anticancer anti-sugar diet. Cancer prevention is much easier and safer. But if doctors already detected cancer, the most logical and effective way to deal with cancer is to cut off the supply of food to cancer cells – starving them with a lack of sugar (glucose). It is actually the selective starvation of cancer cells by choosing anticancer diet – it could be an important step in fighting cancer and increasing cancer survival chances.

Refined sugar is strongly linked to cancer, not only as a cause of it but also as something that feeds the cancer cells once a person has the life threatening cancer. Once cancer cells are established in the body, they depend on steady glucose availability in the blood for their energy.

Sugar and cancer and their connections always have been the subject of research. Scientists noted that blood glucose and insulin levels have a pronounced effect on breast cancer survival statistics. Laboratory tests indicated that increased concentrations of glucose resulted in shorter survival times in mice with breast cancer, with the response being “dose dependent.” It means – the higher the blood glucose levels, the poorer the outcomes (survival rate) in cases of breast cancer. (Santisteban, Ely, Hamel, Read, Kozawa et al., et al., 1985)

Sugar actually “feeds” tumors. According to Dr Don Ayer (Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah), tumor cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells.

It is well known that cancer cells thrive on glucose – foods that cause a sharp rise in blood glucose (white bread, cakes, soda beverages, cereals, pasta) can trigger the secretion of insulin and insulin growth factor (IGF-1), two hormones that also promote cancer growth. So each time you flood your bloodstream with insulin and insulin growth factor, you actually sending a strong “order” to cancer cells to grow!

Insulin is becoming more important in cases of breast cancer. Normal breast cells and breast cancer cells both have insulin receptors. Increased levels of insulin in bloodstream stimulate cancer cells’ multiplication. The higher insulin levels are, the faster breast cells will divide – the faster cells divide, the higher would be the risk of breast cancer development and spreading.

Sugar and cancer

Breast tissue has many insulin and estrogen receptors and these receptors play crucial role in breast cancer development. Increased levels of estrogen are considered as a risk factor for breast cancer development. Insulin is playing another negative role in breast cancer development by increasing the concentration of “free estrogen” (without attached protein) in the bloodstream. Insulin regulates how much of free estrogen in the blood is available to attach to estrogen receptors in breast tissue – the higher insulin levels are, the fewer the number of protein binders will be and therefore the more free estrogen will be available to attach to estrogen receptors. Actually insulin makes more estrogen available to attach to estrogen receptors in breast tissue because insulin regulates the number of protein binders in the blood.

Dr. Thomas Graeber and his colleagues (2012) demonstrate that glucose starvation (depriving cancer cells of glucose) can actually lead to cancer cell death – as a result of the toxic accumulation of reactive oxygen species.

“Increased glucose flux and metabolism promotes several hallmarks of cancer such as excessive proliferation, anti-apoptotic signaling, cell cycle progression and angiogenesis.”
journal Nutrition and Metabolism, 2011

It is critical to understand that simple carbohydrates (“white” bread, rice, pasta, pastries, etc) convert to simple sugar within moments of your chewing them. Complex carbohydrates, those with intact fiber and germ release their glucose more slowly and more healthfully into the bloodstream.


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