(NaturalNews) How many times have you heard it mentioned that sugar causes cancer, that cancer patients should avoid sugar, or that sugar is the favorite food of cancer cells? The truth is, this goes beyond mere hearsay or traditional knowledge; there is actually a large volume of scientific evidence available which shows the link between sugar and increased cancer risk. Here, ten such studies are summarized.
A study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that women who ate the most foods with high glycemic load – the glycemic index, or GI, of a food gives an idea of how quickly sugar (more specifically, glucose) levels in the blood rise after eating it – had almost three times the risk of getting colorectal cancer in the future, compared with women who ate lesser amounts of such foods.
Typically, processed foods made from refined grains and refined sugar, including candy bars, cakes, cookies and other snacks, are high glycemic foods
"We find a very straightforward and clear association between high-glycemic foods and the risk of colorectal cancers," said lead researcher Simin Liu, MD, ScD.
This study involved some 40,000 American women.
2. Colorectal Cancer in Men (United States)
Another study at Harvard University found that middled aged men whose diets tended to increase blood sugar levels quicker, i.e. those who ate more high GI foods, had a 32% higher chance of getting colorectal cancer over a period of 20 years.
The study, which involved more than 50,000 men, also found that this effect seemed to be more pronounced in heavier men.
3. Breast Cancer in Women (United States)
The Women's Health Study found that those who consumed a diet which raised blood sugar levels more had a 135% higher risk of getting breast cancer in the 7-year period of the study.
4. Endometrial Cancer in Women (United States)
The Iowa Women's Health Study looked at some 23,000 post-menopausal women. It found that those who consumed a diet which raised blood sugar levels more had a 46% higher risk of getting endometrial cancer over a period of 15 years.
5. Endometrial Cancer in Women (Italy)
Another study in Italy carried out on women with endometrial cancer found that those who consumed a blood sugar-raising diet had a 110% higher risk of getting this disease.
6. Pancreatic Cancer in Women (United States)
In a study which followed almost 90,000 US women participating in the Nurse's Health Study for a period of 18 years, it was found that women with a high glycemic load intake had a 53% higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer. A similar increase in risk, 57%, was observed for fructose intake.
Further, the study also found that women who were heavy and with low levels of physical activity experienced greatly enhanced risk. Women in this group with high glycemic load had 2.67 times the risk of their counterparts with low glycemic load intake!
7. Pancreatic Cancer in Men and Women (Sweden)
A study carried out by Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and Central Hospital in Västerås, Sweden followed almost 78,000 Swedish men and women with no previous diagnosis of cancer or history of diabetes for a mean period of more than 7 years. The subjects were aged from 45 to 83 years.
The study found that consuming added sugar, soft drinks, sweetened fruit soups or stewed fruit increased the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Those who ate the most sugar had a 69% higher risk compared with those who ate the least sugar. The corresponding higher risk for soft drinks was 93%, while for sweetened fruit soups or stewed fruit it was 51%.
The study concluded that "high consumption of sugar and high-sugar foods may be associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer".
8. Prostate Cancer in Men (Italy)
An Italian study examined the habits of men aged 46 to 74 who had prostate cancer and compared their dietary choices to similar men who did not contract the disease. The study found that those men whose diets were more likely to increase blood sugar levels had a 57% higher risk of getting prostate cancer.
9. All Cancers in Men and Women (Korea)
A large study carried out by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea tracked almost 1.3 million Korean men and women, aged between 30 and 95 years, for a period of 10 years.
The study found that those with the highest fasting glucose levels were more likely to die from all types of cancer combined. For the men, the strongest link was found for pancreatic cancer, while significant links were also reported for oesophagus, liver and colorectal cancers. For the women, the strongest associations were for liver and cervical cancers.
All in all, besides being more likely to die from cancer, those with highest fasting blood glucose levels also had higher risk of developing cancer.
And obesity had a part to play, too. "This study provides more information on glucose intolerance, an emerging cause of cancer. It points to increased cancer risk as another adverse consequence of rising obesity around the world," concluded Sun Ha Jee, leader of the study.
Another thing to note – the study participants were said to be substantially leaner than the typical population in Western countries, as mentioned by the study team.
10. Various Cancers in Men and Women (Sweden)
A study carried out at Umea University Hospital in Sweden looked at almost 65,000 people in northern Sweden for a mean period of 8 years.
The study found that women with the highest blood sugar levels had a higher risk of getting cancer before the end of the study period. This group of women also had higher risk of endometrial cancer, while those below 49 years of age had higher risk of breast cancer. In addition, both men and women who had the highest levels of blood sugar had higher risks of pancreatic cancer, urinary tract cancer, as well as malignant melanoma.
These results led Par Stattin, MD, PhD, part of the study team, to state that keeping blood sugar levels within the normal range "may reduce cancer risk".
Why Does Cancer Love Sugar? – A Study Suggests Why
A study team at Duke University School of Medicine has suggested a possible reason why cancer cells like sugar so much.
Basically, according to the researchers, in healthy cells, certain growth factors regulate their metabolism and cell survival. When these growth factors are removed, there is loss of glucose uptake and metabolism, and the cells die.
However, they found that cancer cells are able to maintain glucose metabolism by using a protein called "Akt", which promotes glucose metabolism. This prevents cell death, even when the growth factors are not available.
What We Need to Take Note of
So, then, based on the findings of the abovementioned studies, can we conclude that sugar feeds cancer? The truth is, sugar feeds all cells in our bodies. It therefore cannot be all bad.
Two things we must take note of, however, is the amount and the type of sugar which we consume.
Consuming too much sugar causes our bodies to produce excessive amounts of insulin. And insulin itself encourages the growth of cells, something which is good for healthy cells, but not cancerous cells.
The other key point is to avoid simple sugars. Broadly speaking, processed and refined foods, including soft drinks, sugary beverages, candy bars, cakes, other desserts, as well as other snacks, contain high amounts of simple sugars. These are high GI foods, which can cause insulin levels to spike.
On the other hand, natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables are so much safer and better for health. Even fresh fruit juice, despite its high sugar content, is great for health. On top of that, healthy whole foods come with a wide concoction of vitamins and minerals, something which refined sugar is totally devoid of.
Simple Sugars Cause Obesity
When one' insulin levels suddenly increase, the level of sugar in the blood can suddenly crash. This, then, can cause one to feel intensely hungry. People then eat more, and feel hungry again soon, and the cycle keeps going.
Further, because of their lack of nutrition, foods with a lot of simple sugars are basically empty calories. When the body's nutritional needs are not met, it continues to crave for food, which again explains the non-stop eating and feasting.
The more refined sugars one eats, the fatter one becomes, yet the more malnourished one can be. It is a huge paradox, and a dangerous one at that.
Refined sugar is devoid of important nutrients, causes obesity, causes cavities, and also increases cancer risk. If you or a loved one are battling cancer, or are serious about avoiding the disease, you may want to take note of your intake of this common yet dangerous substance.