Facts about sugar and cancer

  • Jul. 13, 2018 3:42 p.m.

We could avoid about 3 of every 10 common types of cancer if we would change certain diet and lifestyle habits, says the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research. A good place to start, they recommend, is to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and stay away from tobacco and excess alcohol.

What about sugar? Doesn’t that feed cancer cells? It sure does. And it feeds healthy cells as well. Even if we entirely avoided all carbohydrates (sugars and starches that break down to sugar), our bodies would use protein in an alternate recipe to make glucose (sugar) to fuel our cells. It is not true, therefore, that we can starve cancer cells if we avoid all sugar.

That is just the beginning of our confusion about sugar and cancer, according to an article by registered dietitian Karen Collins in a recent issue of Environmental Nutrition.

We know from a recent large study in France, for example, that the more “ultra-processed” foods we eat, the higher our risk is to develop cancer. Basically, these are the ones that line the shelves of most convenience stores. They are in a package and the main ingredients are fat, sugar and salt and not much else.

The confusion, says Collins, is why highly processed foods loaded with sugar increase our cancer risk. Here are some facts:

Too much sugar — not sugar itself — puts us at an increased risk for certain cancers, say experts. That’s because high intakes of sugar (such as when you swig down a 20-ounce soda) goes quickly into the blood stream. This prompts the pancreas to secrete a load of insulin to tame the surge of sugar in the blood. It’s the high insulin levels, not just the high sugar, that stimulates the growth of cancer cells, researchers now suggest.

Excess sugar, such as the 240 calories in that 20-ounce soda (about 16 teaspoons of added sugar), is a great vehicle for getting a load of calories into our bodies. Extra calories are easily converted to extra love handles. And this increase in body fat does raise our risk for several types of cancer.

So why do the American Institute for Cancer Research and other experts recommend we limit foods and drinks that are loaded with added sugar? To keep our weight in check and make room for a variety of foods we know to be protective against cancer such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.

Here’s one easy way to start. Take the time to read the label, even if you’re in a hurry and starving. No fiber? No vitamins, minerals or protein? Added sugar, salt and fat the top ingredients? Put it down, step back slowly and run for water, nuts or fruit.

Just Posted

Red Deer County backs Canadian Finals Rodeo

Council approved $50,000 for the event’s inaugural event in Red Deer

Dance auditions held for 2019 Canada Winter Games

The 2019 Canada Winter Games committee is holding auditions for volunteers between… Continue reading

Red Deer convenience store robbed at gunpoint

Police still searching for suspect who robbed 7-Eleven at 40th Avenue and 38th Street

2019 Winter Games seeks artisan vendors

A winter market will be set up on the 2019 Canada Winter Games festival grounds

UPDATED: Stretching for a good cause at Central Alberta Yogathon in Red Deer

Funds raised go to Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre

Halifax researchers tag great white shark in Atlantic Canada for first time

HALIFAX — For the first time in Atlantic Canadian waters, scientists have… Continue reading

Liberal riding association president blindsided by MP’s defection

OTTAWA — The president of an Ontario Liberal riding association says he… Continue reading

Pope gives bishops more decision-making options

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis decreed on Tuesday that ordinary Catholics should… Continue reading

Hurricane rating system fails to account for deadly rain

TRENTON, N.C. — When meteorologists downgraded Hurricane Florence from a powerful Category… Continue reading

Glad company: Trailer for Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

LOS ANGELES — A beloved nanny is preparing to take to the… Continue reading

Jeremy Dutcher wins Polaris prize for ‘Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa’

TORONTO — Jeremy Dutcher has won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports manufacturing sales rose 0.9 per cent in July

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales increased 0.9 per cent in… Continue reading

China raises tariffs on $60B of US goods in technology fight

BEIJING — China on Tuesday announced a tariff hike on $60 billion… Continue reading

Most Read