Sugar And Cancer: Does Sugar Increase Cancer Risk
contributed by Nancy Burke, R.D., Danielle Karsies, M.S., R.D., and Melissa Shannon-Hagen, R.D., CSO, U-M Rogel Cancer Center Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program
You may have heard that sugar feeds cancer and to avoid all foods and beverages that contain sugar, but is this really necessary? Following such a restriction can significantly reduce your intake of foods that are rich in nutrients that have been shown to fight cancer such as fruits and whole grains. In addition, eating enough calories during cancer treatment can be difficult. Adding new, restrictive dietary changes can often lead to more stress which can also compromise your immune system. The following information is what the research shows in relation to sugar and cancer and how to incorporate healthy eating based on these findings.
The Insulin Resistance Can Progress To Type Ii Diabetes
When our cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, the beta cells in our pancreas make more of it.
This is crucial, because chronically elevated blood sugars can cause severe harm.
Eventually, as insulin resistance becomes progressively worse, the pancreas cant keep up with the demand of producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels down.
At this point, blood sugar levels skyrocket and a diagnosis of type II diabetes is made.
Given that sugar can cause insulin resistance, it is not surprising to see that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages have up to an 83% higher risk of Type II diabetes .
Reducing Foods That Contain Added Sugar
Some food products contain large amounts of added sugars. Reducing or removing these foods is an efficient way to reduce the amount of sugar a person eats.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 20102015 state that soda and other soft drinks account for around half a persons added sugar intake in the U.S. The average can of soda or fruit punch provides 10 tsp of sugar.
Another common source of sugar is breakfast cereal. According to EWG, many popular cereals contain over 60% sugar by weight, with some store brands containing over 80% sugar. This is especially true of cereals marketed towards children.
Swapping these foods for unsweetened alternatives will help a person lower their sugar intake, for example:
- swapping soda for water, milk, or herbal teas
- swapping sugary cereals for low sugar cereal, oatmeal, or eggs
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Association Of Consumption Of Sugary Drinks With Breast Cancer Risk
A recent meta-analysis used data from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort Study which included 1,01,257 participants aged 18 and over. The study evaluated the association between consumption of sugary drinks such as sugar sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices, and artificially sweetened beverages and cancer based on a questionnaire based data.
The study suggested that those who had an increased consumption of sugary drinks were 18% more likely to develop overall cancer and 22% more likely to develop breast cancer compared those who did not or seldom consume sugary drinks. However, the researchers suggested more well designed prospective studies to establish this association.
A similar study was conducted which evaluated data from 10,713 middle-aged, Spanish females from the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra cohort study with an average age of 33 years, who didnt have a history of breast cancer. The study evaluated the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of breast cancer. After a mean follow up of 10 years, 100 breast cancer incidences were reported.
Association Of Consumption Of Concentrated Sugars With Incidence Of Prostate Cancer
A recent study analyzed data of 22,720 men from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial who were enrolled between 1993-2001.The study evaluated the association between consumption of added or concentrated sugars in beverages and desserts and prostate cancer risk. After a median follow-up of 9 years, 1996 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The study found that increased consumption of sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer for men who consumed very high levels of sugar. The study suggested that limiting the intake of sugar from beverages may be important in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer patients may have to avoid very high intake of concentrated sugar.
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May Increase Your Risk Of Cancer
Eating excessive amounts of sugar may increase your risk of developing certain cancers.
First, a diet rich in sugary foods and beverages can lead to obesity, which significantly raises your risk of cancer .
Furthermore, diets high in sugar increase inflammation in your body and may cause insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk .
A study in over 430,000 people found that added sugar consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, pleural cancer and cancer of the small intestine .
Another study showed that women who consumed sweet buns and cookies more than three times per week were 1.42 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who consumed these foods less than 0.5 times per week .
Research on the link between added sugar intake and cancer is ongoing, and more studies are needed to fully understand this complex relationship.
Too much sugar can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for cancer.
Fruits Vegetables And Cancer
Eating fruit and vegetables has long been known to provide many health benefits. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which may help to decrease your risk of cancer in particular areas of the digestive system, such as the mouth and stomach.Evidence has weakened over recent years over the role of fruit and vegetables in preventing cancer. Yet fruits and vegetables are still an important part of your diet and may play an indirect effect of preventing cancer because they are relatively low in kilojoules and consumption is associated with a healthier weight.
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Due To Its Effects On Hormones And The Brain Sugar Has Unique Fat
Not all calories are created equal.
Different foods can have different effects on our brains and the hormones that control food intake .
Studies show that fructose doesnt have the same kind of effect on satiety as glucose.
In one study, people drank either a fructose-sweetened drink or a glucose-sweetened drink.
Afterwards, the fructose drinkers had much less activity in the satiety centres of the brain and felt hungrier .
There is also a study where fructose didnt lower the hunger hormone ghrelin nearly as much as glucose did .
Over time, because the calories from sugar arent as fulfilling, this can translate into an increased calorie intake.
Should We Cut Off Sugar Completely From Our Diet To Prevent Cancer
Cutting off all forms of sugar from the diet may not be the right approach to avoid cancer, as the healthy normal cells also require energy to grow and survive. However, keeping a check on the following may help us stay healthier!
- Avoid regular intake of high sugar sweetened beverages, sweetened carbonated beverages, high concentrated sugary drinks including certain fruit juices and drink lots of water.
- Take just the right amounts of sugar as part of our diet by having whole fruits instead of separately adding table sugar or other forms of sugar to our foods. Restrict the amount of table sugar in your beverages such as tea, coffee,milk, lime juice and so on.
- Reduce the consumption of processed foods and include more fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid sugary and fatty foods and keep a check on your weight, as obesity is one of the major risk factors for cancer.
- Take a personalized cancer diet which supports your treatment and cancer.
- Along with healthy food, do regular exercises to stay healthy and avoid gaining weight.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
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May Increase Your Risk Of Heart Disease
High-sugar diets have been associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide .
Evidence suggests that high-sugar diets can lead to obesity, inflammation and high triglyceride, blood sugar and blood pressure levels all risk factors for heart disease .
Additionally, consuming too much sugar, especially from sugar-sweetened drinks, has been linked to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by fatty, artery-clogging deposits .
A study in over 30,000 people found that those who consumed 1721% of calories from added sugar had a 38% greater risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those consuming only 8% of calories from added sugar .
Just one 16-ounce can of soda contains 52 grams of sugar, which equates to more than 10% of your daily calorie consumption, based on a 2,000-calorie diet .
This means that one sugary drink a day can already put you over the recommended daily limit for added sugar.
Consuming too much added sugar increases heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and inflammation. High-sugar diets have been linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
But Dont Break Out The Rainbow Sprinkles
Sugar isnt off the hook completely. While eating more sugar, in and of itself, doesnt cause cancer, eating too much of it can make you pack on the pounds. Being obese does increase your risk for certain cancers, including breast cancer, as does being diabetic, which is also more likely if youre overweight.
There is evidence that following a Mediterranean diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies and healthy fats can cut your cancer risk.
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Can Eating Sugar Cause Cancer
You might be wondering whether the sugar in the foods you eat can cause cancer cells to develop. The short answer is no. No studies in people have shown that reducing sugar intake prevents or treats cancer. Furthermore, no studies have shown that eating too much sugar causes cancer. In other words, there is not a direct link between sugar and cancer.
Some research in this field includes studies of soft drinks, which have high amounts of sugar. A 2006 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by Yale researchers, for example, found no connection between soft drink consumption and an increased risk for esophageal cancer. Meanwhile, a 2019 study in PLOS One found no link between soft drink consumption and colorectal cancer, and a 2012 study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute found no association between dietary sugars and an increased risk of colorectal cancer or any other major cancer.
The Link Between Sugar And Breast Cancer
Itâs a question doctors and dietitians hear from many women: Does eating sugar cause breast cancer? Can it raise your risk or make a tumor grow faster?
Major medical groups such as the American Cancer Society insist itâs a myth that âsugar feeds cancer.â Scientists are still looking into the link between sweets and all forms of the disease, including breast cancer, which affects about 1 in 8 women in the United States. But some research may offer a reason to rethink your sugar intake.
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Does Sugar Cause Cancer
I was told that sugar causes cancer or if you have cancer will feed the cancer cells. Is this true? “
Sugar is not a carcinogenic substance. However, over-consumption of sugar, particularly added sugars in processed beverages and foods, can contribute to obesity which is an important risk factor for cancer. There is no evidence that consuming sugar makes cancer cells grow faster or cause cancer.
The National Health and Medical Research Council has reviewed all available evidence to update the Australian Dietary Guidelines and concluded that consumption of sucrose is not associated with an increased risk of cancer. There was sufficient evidence to conclude that there was no association between sugars and cancer of the pancreas, bowel, breast and bladder. There was no evidence of a direct association between sugar consumption and an increased risk of cancer of any type.
There is a view that sugar feeds cancer cells. Most cancer cells grow faster than normal cells and therefore require more energy. It has been shown that glucose metabolism is often altered in cancer cells to meet the increased demand for glucose. However, this does not mean that consuming sugar will make cancer cells grow faster or cause cancer. All foods are broken down into glucose as all cells, not just cancer cells, require glucose for energy.
What About Ketogenic Diets Can They Lower Your Risk Of Developing Cancer
A ketogenic diet is when you restrict carbohydrates and eat more fat. On a ketogenic diet, youre burning fats and your metabolic rate goes up just a little bit. It makes you use more calories from what you eat in just maintaining yourself every day. And you have very little ability to store the extra fats that you eat, so you pee them out as ketones. Thats why its called ketogenic. And its why people lose weight on a ketogenic diet theyre getting rid of more of the calories that they consume.
So does a ketogenic diet help you decrease your chances of getting cancer? If you are overweight and it helps you lose weight, then yes, it does. If you can tolerate it, its perfectly fine. I was on a ketogenic diet for two and a half to three years back in 2004, 2005. I lost 40 pounds. But I eventually gave it up and Ive since gained back most of the weight. Its almost impossible to stay on a ketogenic diet for any significant length of time. Food just doesnt taste the same. But I still dont eat a lot of refined sugar in any way, form, or shape.
Now does a ketogenic diet matter once you have cancer? Does it help improve your cancer care? We have no evidence that thats true, or that you should use a ketogenic diet while youre receiving cancer treatment. In fact, a person going through cancer treatment might benefit from additional calories and nutritional support to help his or her body recover.
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The Benefits Of Artificial Sweeteners
The most obvious benefit of artificial sweeteners is that they arent sugar. Sugar has a variety of negative effects when consumed in excess: metabolic damage, contribution to obesity, and tooth decay. Sweeteners have no effect on some of these, and considerably less than sugar on others. For example, sweeteners tend not to contribute to tooth decay and have a significantly smaller glycemic load. Swapping high-sugar content foods for sweetened foods is a simple way to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, although it is important to remember that this is still a plausible risk.
Many sweeteners are also considerably lower-calorie than sugar, or simply zero-calorie. These forms of sweetener tend to be non-digestible, meaning that you can taste them but your body will not be able to digest them and burn them for fuel. This means that your body cannot utilize these compounds as a source of metabolic fuel, or that it does so with the result of less than 1 calorie.
This makes sweeteners a great choice for those looking to alter bad habits, reduce overeating, and control their overall calorie intake. The 50g of sugar found in many single-serving ice creams or fizzy drinks is equitable to 200 calories replacing this with sweeteners is an easy way to significantly reduce calorie intake, or remove it completely.
Has Been Linked To Acne
A diet high in refined carbs, including sugary foods and drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of developing acne.
Foods with a high glycemic index, such as processed sweets, raise your blood sugar more rapidly than foods with a lower glycemic index.
Sugary foods quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, causing increased androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which play a role in acne development .
Studies have shown that low-glycemic diets are associated with a reduced acne risk, while high-glycemic diets are linked to a greater risk .
For example, a study in 2,300 teens demonstrated that those who frequently consumed added sugar had a 30% greater risk of developing acne .
Also, many population studies have shown that rural communities that consume traditional, non-processed foods have almost non-existent rates of acne, compared to more urban, high-income areas .
These findings coincide with the theory that diets high in processed, sugar-laden foods contribute to the development of acne.
High-sugar diets can increase androgen secretion, oil production and inflammation, all of which can raise your risk of developing acne.
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How Did We Get Into This Obesity Trouble
As we emerged as a major agricultural nation after World War II, the United States was able to produce a tremendous amount of grains. And the caloric value of grains is not in their protein or in their fats primarily, but in their carbohydrates.
We also learned that we could refine those carbohydrates into things that were pleasurable to eat sugar. So that was exploited, for good and for bad, to give us the soft drinks that we have today, to give us the kinds of high-caloric meals that allow people not to be malnourished. Because the first necessity in nutrition is not to have a balanced diet, but just to get enough calories to support us with the energy to live. Carbohydrates are the most immediate source of our ability to produce the energy needed to maintain our bodies.
But then the USDA developed the nutritional food pyramid and put carbohydrates at the base of it. The food pyramid wasnt based on science. It was just what we could produce as a nation. Thats gotten us into trouble.