Consuming sugar might give you a quick boost of energy when required, but including too much of it in your diet can lead to serious health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Recently, there have been questions about the relationship of sugar with cancer. It is a known fact that the consumption of too much sugar impacts your insulin levels, which leads to chronic diseases, but does it directly cause cancer?
How Does Cancer Grow?
The healthy cells in your body follow a certain pattern or rule when they replicate and divide. A cancer cell is created when a gene of a healthy cell or a small group of cells undergoes mutation. Once a cell mutates, its ability to follow a certain pattern or program during growth and multiplication gets hampered, causing the cell to divide uncontrollably forming a lump called a tumor. When tumors grow, they need an excessive supply of blood. So, they send out signals to recruit new blood vessels to help them grow. As soon as cancer cells stimulate the growth of blood vessels, they grow bigger more rapidly.
Just like any other healthy cells, cancer cells need oxygen and nutrients to grow. Glucose is used up for energy by healthy and cancerous cells alike. A consistent supply of glucose feeds cancers cells even when you do not include any carbohydrate in your diet as your body makes glucose from protein and fats.
How Does Sugar Promote Cancer Growth?
There are actually 2 ways in which sugar promotes the growth of cancer cells. Sugar directly feeds and provides energy to cancer cells like it does to any other healthy cell, and an excess of it creates a toxic environment which leads to more cancer growth. According to research, the main influencer of cancer cell growth is the relationship of sugar to higher levels of insulin and other related growth factors.1
Since many types of cancer cells have many insulin receptors, they respond to insulin’s ability to promote growth more than normal cells do. There is no direct link between obesity and development of cancer but being obese can cause some changes in the sex hormone or insulin levels which increase the risk colon, breast, or uterine cancer.
What Precautions Can You Take To Decrease Your Risk Of Cancer Cell Growth?
In order to decrease your risk of cancer cell growth, you have to start watching what you eat. You have to cut out all forms of refined sugars and processed foods from your diet. Not only will this reduce your risk of cancer cell growth but also lower your risk of other conditions, like diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases. Instead, start consuming a healthy balanced diet, which includes plenty of whole grains and the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified sugar replacement like aspartame, and use natural sweeteners like honey or stevia. Natural sugars like maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses, and honey contain antioxidants, which can actually protect your cells from cancer. Also, stay active. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and decreases insulin resistance. You don’t have to start exercising vigorously if you are not used to it. Just start slow and build your way up from there. The key is to incorporate any form of exercise that helps you stay active into your lifestyle.
|↑1||Barclay AW, Petocz P, McMillan-Price J, Flood VM, Prvan T, Mitchell P, Brand-Miller JC. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk–a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:627-37.Gnagnarella P, Gandini S, La Vecchia C, Maisonneuve P. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:1793-801.|