The connection between sugar and cancer

Does sugar feed cancer?

While researchers continue to investigate the connection between sugar and cancer, it remains a source of anxiety-inducing speculation and misinformation in the media and on the internet.

Of course, the undeniable answer is that glucose (the form of sugar used most in the body) feeds every cell in the body, and is so important to the function of your brain that the body has several back up strategies to keep blood sugar levels normal. Even without any carbohydrate in the diet, your body will make sugar from other sources, including protein and fat.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: I disagree with much of what this article states. On a very basic biochemical level, we have three major macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Healthy cells require protein and fat for survival, but not carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are kept very low – as we see with ketogenic diets – the body makes ketones, which healthy cells can use for energy in place of carbohydrates. In contrast, cancer cells cannot use ketones like healthy cells can, so I believe that restricting carbohydrates is an important aspect of cancer treatment.

Want proof that cancer cells love sugar and use it as a primary fuel source? Look at a PET scan. We use radiolabeled sugar to identify cancerous tumors, as tumors take up the sugar much faster than normal cells (these are the areas that “light up” on a PET scan). With that said, sugar isn’t the only way cancer cells grow, but by restricting sugar in the diet, we are greatly diminishing the available fuel for cancer cells. 

Here’s How Sugar Might Fuel the Growth of Cancer

Researchers may be able to explain how sugar might fuel the growth of cancer. They say it boils down to one type of sugar in particular: fructose.

Tests in mice show a possible mechanism for how it happens. The findings, published in the journal Cancer Research, support studies that suggest people who consume more sugar have a higher risk of cancer — especially breast cancer.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: It is no wonder that cancer rates continue to increase along with our consumption of processed foods. With a shift back toward more natural and minimally-processed foods, such as organic produce, healthy fats, grass fed beef, organic free range eggs, etc., we would see cancer rates decline. We would also see much lower incidence of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hormonal dysfunction.

Why Sugar Is Called “The White Death” and the Sugar Cancer Connection

As good as it may taste, sugar is NOT your friend. It may “feel” like your friend when it comforts you (due to the beta-endorphin rush in your brain), but sugar is really your ENEMY.

Truth be told, regular consumption of sugary foods is one of the worst things that you can do for your health. Modern scientific research has shown us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that sugar in your food (in all its myriad forms) is taking a devastating toll on your health.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: This is an excellent summary of sugar’s relationship to cancer, and also a nice reference for the various types of sweeteners. I prefer stevia, but make sure that it is non-GMO and does not have added sugar such as dextrose. Stevia has three main advantages over other sweeteners: it is natural, it is zero carbohydrates, and it will not raise blood sugar levels.

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