The Sugar-Cancer Link
Since sugar has become a staple of the American diet over the past 100 years, rates of obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and numerous other chronic diseases have skyrocketed. A whopping 70% of Americans are now overweight, and by 2030, that number is expected to rise to 86%.
It’s safe to say we’re facing an epidemic, and all signs point to the same sneaky villain: sugar.
The real culprit
In the U.S. today, the average person consumes roughly one-third a pound of sugar every day. Many people eat more than twice that amount. Disturbingly, the single-largest source of calories for Americans is now sugar.
Each time food enters your mouth and is broken down on its way through your digestive system, nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. When we eat sugar, the same thing happens ― but there’s a limit to how much sugar the human body can tolerate.
Our bodies are designed to handle no more than one teaspoon of sugar in the bloodstream at any given time. When there’s more than that, our systems must work overtime to keep up.
To compensate for the overwhelming flood of fructose and glucose that hits your bloodstream when you eat sugary or processed foods, your pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers blood sugar by converting sugars into fats that can be absorbed by your cells.
Therefore, the more sugar you eat, the more insulin you produce. And the more insulin you produce and force your cells to process, the more fat your cells absorb and the more overweight you become. Obesity has been linked to chronic metabolic diseases ranging from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease to dementia ― and now to cancer as well.
The sugar-cancer connection
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has officially reported that those who are obese and/or diabetic are at greater risk for cancer, largely due to increased insulin resistance and mitochondrial dysfunction caused by eating excess sugar.
Here’s why: As sugar consumption rises, your body releases more and more insulin to mop up the excess sugar in your bloodstream. During this process, large amounts of free radicals, which cause damage to cells, are also released. This unhealthy cellular environment opens the door for cell mutations to occur, and the longer the toxic conditions remain, the higher the likelihood of mutations.
In a nutshell, the more sugar you eat, the more toxic your body becomes ― and the more you increase your risk of developing cancer.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sugar also serves as the fuel source for the mutated cells, encouraging further mutations and cancerous cell growth.
Thus far, the National Institutes of Health have investigated the link between sugar and 24 different types of cancer. While studies will undoubtedly continue, the results are already compelling. Added sugars were shown to increase the risk of esophageal cancer, and excess fructose (such as in high fructose corn syrup) appears to increase cancer risk in the small intestines and colon. Refined sugars and fructose are also linked to breast cancer, and the same studies have even shown that too much sugar can increase the likelihood of cancer spreading to other organs.
What’s the solution?
Think there’s nothing you can do about it? Think again. You can take steps to support healthy cell function.
Since cancer cells need sugar to thrive, the first step is to cut out (or at least drastically cut back) added sugars. Simple carbs (devoid of any fiber) should also be removed or restricted, since they convert to sugar in the bloodstream. Lastly, processed foods should be avoided, since the vast majority of such foods are filled with added sugars.
To help make the transition to a diet that supports healthy cells, focus on eating whole foods like fresh fruits and veggies. Keep your diet as colorful as possible, and incorporate healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil and ghee.
While various studies have found that sugar is addictive ― some even claiming it’s as addictive as cocaine ― the good news is that when you cut sugar out of your diet for just a week or two, you’ll stop craving it altogether.
Feed your body what it needs (not just what’s quick and convenient), and your happy, healthy cells will thank you for years to come.