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Does Eating Sugar Feed Cancer

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Is It Sugar Or Weight Gain

Does sugar feed cancer? | Jane Clarke, Ask an Expert Ep.1

The typical American adult gets about 34 teaspoons of sugar every day, more than three times the maximum amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Agricultureâs dietary guidelines.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and comes in several forms, including fructose, glucose, sucrose, and lactose.

Complex carbohydrates are found in starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, and vegetables. During digestion, your body breaks down complex carbs into simple sugars, including glucose. So-called high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as potatoes and white rice, change to glucose quickly in the bloodstream. Cells absorb glucose and use it to make energy.

Cancer cells use a lot of glucose: about 200 times more than normal cells. That discovery in the 1920s helped give rise to the idea that âsugar feeds cancer,â but many dietitians say thatâs too simplistic. âThereâs no direct link between sugar and breast cancer,â says oncology dietitian Nichole Giller, who works with people who have cancer.

But thatâs not a green light to fill up on chocolates and root beer. Sugar is high in calories, and eating too much causes weight gain. That leads to extra body fat, explains Giller. And fat is a source of the hormone estrogen, which raises the risk for breast cancer at high levels.

Myth : You Must Cut Out All Sugar

You dont need to avoid all sugar to stay healthy. In fact, sugar is an important part of a balanced diet, particularly when it comes from natural sources like fruit. Your body makes its own sugar from other macronutrients in your diet, such as protein, fat and complex carbohydrates, so eating added sugar isnt necessary. Its all about moderation.

Rather than completely cutting sugar from your diet, aim to limit refined carbohydrates, along with foods and beverages with added sugars. Instead focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet high in fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains.

According to the American Heart Association, women should limit their added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, a day. Men should limit their sugar consumption to no more than 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams, a day.

A Lifestyle Strategy To Keep Cancer At Bay

Research shows that extended periods of high blood sugar and high insulin, the hormone that helps manage blood sugar, may influence cancer cell growth rather than any one particular food.

To keep the risk of cancer low and to slow down growth of existing cancer, you can adopt a lifestyle that keeps blood sugar consistently in a healthy range. The American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Societyrecommend that you:

  • Choose high-fiber carbohydrates that dont spike blood sugar like whole fruits, beans, lentils, vegetables, whole grains and fresh herbs.
  • Avoid quickly digested carbohydrates that raise blood sugar fast including soda, juice, candy and desserts.
  • Balance meals and snacks to include protein, fiber and healthy fats these components slow down digestion and blood sugar spikes.
  • Get moving! Exercise and physical activity throughout the day naturally lower blood sugar as glucose is used to fuel muscles.
  • Manage stress. Stress raises blood sugar even without food! Make time for relaxing activities like nature walks, puzzles and time with friends.

Recommended Reading: Do I Have Diabetes If My Blood Sugar Is Low

Sucrose And Cancer Today

Sugar and sugar-sweetened foods and drinks have been increasingly scrutinized for their role in promoting cancer development and cancer spread.

In an editorial in Nutrition, Dr. Undurti N. Das highlighted the fact that fructose, a constituent of table sugar, or sucrose, changes cell metabolism and raises the activity of cancer-promoting proteins.

In an accompanying article, Ashutosh Kumar, Ph.D., and his colleagues from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Hyderabad in India echo this sentiment.

But Kumar also highlights that here are many published reports with conflicting results regarding the role of carbohydrates and cancer prevalence.

For instance, several studies have found an increased of endometrial cancer in women who consumed high levels of sucrose, yet when it comes to other types of cancer, the data are less clear.

While some study failed to find a clear-cut association.

As mentioned earlier, we have previously reported on a study that revealed that sucrose increases breast cancer rates. Over half of mice fed a sucrose-rich diet developed breast cancer, while only 30 percent of mice that consumed a starch-based diet did. While a number of population studies concur with this finding , others refute such a link.

The question is, how easy is it to get away from the sweet temptation that is sugar?

Myth Or Fact: Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells

How Sugar Feeds Cancer Growth

The relationship between sugar and cancer has been the subject of public debate for decades. If you or a loved one are facing cancer, its likely a question youve considered as well.

The truth is blood sugar, also known as glucose, feeds all your cells, including cancer cells. Because many healthy foods with cancer-fighting and immune-boosting nutrients contain sugar, cutting out all sources of sugar isnt the best solution. Luckily, there is a lot you can do with your diet and lifestyle to prevent cancer and support treatment, says Lynne Groeger, M.S., R.D., C.S.O., Registered Dietitian specializing in oncology nutrition with Riverside Cancer Care Center.

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Understanding The Answer To Does Sugar Feed Cancer

Hopefully, now you have a little more clarity about how sugar impacts the body of individuals dealing with cancer. While there is no direct link to sugar consumption and an increase in risk exposure to cancer or cancer growth, you should still monitor your intake and keep it to a minimum. If youre suffering from cancer and need some help, contact Arizona Oncology Foundation today.

Cancer Myths Cause More Harm Than Good

Our body is designed to use blood sugar as fuel, so while sugar does feed cancer cells it also feeds healthy cells. Oversimplifying the sugar and cancer debate can cause more harm than good, creating stress and anxiety around food and mealtime. Focus on overall lifestyle changes, rather than worrying about one food, to benefit your health.

Do you need help with making lifestyle changes to support healthy blood sugar? Learn more about our oncology nutritionist by visiting Integrative Medicine or calling 757-594-3099.

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How Can You Make Sugars A Healthy Part Of Your Diet

Wisdom-Gilliam has put together a list of tips to help make sure sugars are a healthy part of your diet.

Too much sugar = thumbs down

  • Too much of anything is a bad thing. Sugars are no different. Too much sugar can result in excess weight and body fat. Fat cells produce high levels of hormones and proteins that can cause inflammation that is linked to increased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Watch out for added sugars

  • Added sugars are any sugars that are added to food during processing and preparation. Foods like pop, candy, chocolate and some cereals all have added sugars.
  • Follow the American Heart Association recommendations on added sugar intake:
  • Women 6 teaspoons/day
  • Men 9 teaspoons/day

Whether sugar is natural or refined, worry about the amount

  • To the body a sugar molecule is a sugar molecule whether refined or unrefined
  • The amount is the problem, stick to 25 grams a day for women and 37 grams a day for men.

Eat as many whole, healthy, unprocessed foods as you can

  • Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. They not only are a great source of sugars but they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

American Heart Association recommended added sugar intake.

Although Sugar Does Not Feed Cancer It Is Still A Good Idea To Limit Sugar In Your Diet As It Provides Very Little Nutritional Value

Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

The following are some tips for making sure you are eating a nutritious diet:

Choose complex carbohydrates instead of sweets and sugar sweetened drinks.

  • The body needs nutritious food during cancer treatment. Choose foods that provide the body with nutrients, not only sugar.
  • Examples of complex carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables and whole-grain breads, cereals, rice, and pastas. Beans such as kidney, pinto, and black beans are all excellent sources of protein and complex carbohydrates.

Eat consistently and regularly to keep blood sugar level stable.

  • Eat small meals every 2-3 hours including a source of lean protein, complex carbohydrate, and healthy fat.
  • Here are some examples of healthy mini meals:
  • ½ of a sandwich made from a slice of 100% whole-wheat bread, 2 tsp. peanut butter, 1 tsp. fruit preserves
  • 1/2c. cottage cheese and ½ c. canned fruit in 100% juice
  • 1/4c. black beans, 1/2c. brown rice, 1 Tbsp. salsa

Beware of becoming obsessed with food, ingredient lists, etc. Try to relax and set realistic food goals.

For more tips on reducing your sugar intake and eating a healthier diet, read Guidelines for Reducing Sugar Intake.

Recommended Reading: Where Can I Buy The Book Smart Blood Sugar

Sugar Insulin And Breast Cancer

Some doctors take a different approach. âI tell people that they should reduce sugar consumption and carbohydrate consumption,â says Victoria Seewaldt, MD, chair of the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope, a cancer research and treatment center near Los Angeles.

Seewaldt, who studies cancer prevention, has long been interested in the link between breast cancer and the hormone insulin. Your pancreas makes insulin to help your body store glucose broken down from carbohydrates in cells in muscle, fat, and other tissues. Eating a lot of sugar and other carbohydrates raises blood sugar levels and insulin production.

Breast cancer is a complex disease involving a number of factors, Seewaldt says, including insulin. She explains that insulin helps stimulate a number of biological changes in the body that are known to promote breast cancer. âInsulin is a really bad actor,â Seewaldt says.

The Sugar And Cancer Connection


Does sugar feed cancer? Its one of the questions we get asked often. We prepared this video to provide an evidence-based answer to this frequently asked question.

The bottom line: every cell in our bodies, including cancer cells, uses sugar from our bloodstream for fuel.

We get that blood sugar from foods we eat containing carbohydrates, including healthful vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy sources. Some glucose is even produced within our bodies from protein, but theres no clear evidence that the sugar in your diet preferentially feeds tumors over other cells.

There is a connection between sugar and cancer risk, however, but its more indirect than many realize. Eating a lot of high-sugar foods may mean more calories in your diet than you need, which eventually leads to excess body fat. After not smoking, being at a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to prevent cancer. It is excess body fat that is convincingly linked to greater risk of these 12 types of cancer:

  • Breast
  • Stomach

AICR Impact

The American Institute for Cancer Research helps the public understand the relationship between lifestyle, nutrition and cancer risk. We work to prevent cancer through innovative research, community programs and impactful public health initiatives.

Also Check: How Do You Quit Eating Sugar

Too Much Sugar Is Still Bad Right

Though we needn’t be worried about sugar feeding cancer, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to your overall sugar consumption.

An excessive sweet tooth can lead to a whole host of health problems, including a greater risk of developing certain cancers.

Just as fat can be converted to sugar when it’s needed, the reverse can also happen sugar being stored as fat when the body doesn’t require it.

Professor Aranda says people with higher sugar intakes are more likely to be overweight or obese, which is a contributing factor to cancer.

“We’ve estimated that just over 3 per cent of the total number of cancers diagnosed in Australia are related to obesity or being overweight,” she says.

When You Talk About Sugar Are We Talking About High

Carbohydrates and Cancer: Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Although there are many types of sugars galactose and lactose in milk, maltose in grains, sucrose/table sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets, and high-fructose corn syrup from chemically converted corn starch the latter two are the sweetest, and most frequently found in our drinks and desserts.

Both table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are a mixture of glucose and fructose. Its the fructose that provides most of the sweet flavor. Fruits that taste sweet also have a mixture of glucose and fructose, though theyre not as dangerous as fruit juices or drinks with sucrose or high fructose corn syrup added, in terms of risk for obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cancer.

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What Do These Studies Suggest

There is conflicting data on the association between sugar food intake and cancer risk. However, most of the studies indicate that sugar consumption in restricted quantities may not cause/feed cancer. These studies also highlight that a constant intake of high sugary foods which can increase the blood glucose to a very high level leading to overweight and obesity is not healthy and can increase the risk of cancer. Regular intake of highly concentrated sugary food may cause/feed cancer. Some studies also show that high sugary food consumption may interfere with certain treatment outcomes in specific cancer types.

Does Sugar Cause Cancer

Sugar feeds every cell in your body. But does sugar cause cancer, orhelp it to grow and spread? Our expert says to watch out for addedsugars, but not for the reasons you may think.

Does sugar feed cancer cells?

Lets look at the evidence to find out whether sugar causes cancer to grow and spread more quickly.

Its true that sugar feeds every cell in our body even cancer cells. But, research shows that eating sugar doesnt necessarily lead to cancer. Its what sugar does to your waistline that can lead to cancer.

Taking in too many sugar calories may result in weight gain. And, being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases.

So, should you avoid sugar? Our expert says no.

Your bodys cells use sugar to keep your vital organs functioning, says Erma Levy, a research dietitian in Behavioral Science. But too much daily sugar can cause weight gain. And, unhealthy weight gain and a lack of exercise can increase your cancer risks.

Eat the right amount of sugar

So, how much sugar is safe to eat? Women should have no more than six teaspoons per day , and men should have no more than nine teaspoons per day , says the American Heart Association. This equals to about 100 calories for women and 150 for men.

If youre like most Americans, you actually eat more than double that much sugar in a day about 22 teaspoons. Thats 260 cups or 130 lbs. of sugar each year.

Spot hidden sugar in food

  • fructose
  • sucrose
  • maltose
  • glucose
  • dextrose

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What If You Crave Sugar During Cancer Treatments

Some cancer patients crave sweets during treatments. Chemotherapy seems to alter taste and appetite for many patients. And sometimes this leaves you craving sugary foods. Some of the steroids your doctor might prescribe are notorious for this. And your body and brain may be wanting an energy boost, since cancer treatments can make you very tired.

Since eating sugar wont affect your treatment outcome, it is likely okay to satisfy these cravings with a little sweet treat. Just realize that extra sugars can lead to weight gain, especially if your arent able to exercise, and other health issues. Try to find healthier choices, such as fruit, to satisfy those cravings. And balance it out with more fiber or protein, if you can. And when your treatments are done and these cravings subside, eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Be sure to ask your oncologist or cancer care dietitian about your specific nutritional needs.

I hope you found this information on Sugars and Cancer helpful. I look forward to exploring the other carbohydrates with you in Part 2 and Part 3 in this series.

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In the meantime, perhaps you might be interested in these other articles

Can You Describe What Youre Learning In Your Latest Research

PCSS – Does Sugar Feed Prostate Cancer?

The first thing we learned is that theres a link between insulin and cancer. Insulin stimulates a protein in that gene, making it more efficiently activated by insulin. That drives many cancers, including endometrial, breast, and colorectal cancers. This might explain why people who eat a lot of sugar, which causes an elevation in insulin in the blood, are at a higher risk for many cancers. Insulin resistance, which is caused by eating too much sugar, also causes an increase in insulin levels in the blood and this disease also correlates with increased risk of some cancers.

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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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