Does sugar cause cancer?

Not to bombard you with posts today but I just read this article and had to share.   Is Sugar Toxic? – NYTimes.com.

Pretty long but basically calls out some serious research that has been done linking sugar to cancer.  Both sucrose (beet and cane sugar whether white or brown) and high fructose corn syrup.  I’m not a scientist and this is a little techy for me (feel free to chime in if you think I get any of this wrong) but basically it sounds like (in some animal testing) if fructose (what sugar is) hits the liver with enough quantity and speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat.

This creates a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered to be the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals.  It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers.

It also sounds like past research has not raised any big red flags because the average added sugar consumption was estimated to be at 40 pounds per person per year (beyond what you get in fruit and veggies) or 200 calories per day of sugar. However by the early 2000s, according to the U.S.D.A., we had increased our consumption to more than 90 pounds per person per year.

The article goes into detail around insulin resistance, diabetes, our current obesity epidemic, along with calling out other things sugar does to you including raising blood levels of triglycerides (which is a technical term for fat), increasing cholesterol, and causing heart disease.

I’ve known about all of the above (but was definitely a good reminder) but the most interesting thing to me was the potential link to cancer.

Going back to insulin resistance and that people with it are more likely to be obese and diabetic…

The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.  It is not controversial.  What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t

This goes along with two other observations that have led to the well-accepted idea that some large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles. This means they could actually be prevented if we could pinpoint exactly what the problem is and prevent or avoid that.

All of this is still a little over my head and I hope I’m calling out the main points correctly here but from what I can understand researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth.

So in summary, I believe this article tells me that cancer is caused by the food we eat (I have LONG believed this) and that the more sugar you eat, the more insulin you get and the more insulin you have, the more tumor growth that could happen? And again, there’s way more detail in this article than I’m putting on here.  Read it and understand it for yourself.  I was just trying to call out the parts (I think) I understood.

So what do we do about it?  Eat less sugar.  Which seems obvious but I’ll admit, I love sugar.  I love desserts, I love treats,  I love fruity ciders… Love it all.  And prior to reading this article I was of the mindset that it was clearly bad for me but I didn’t realize the link to cancer. This has been a huge wake-up call for me.  No matter how much I love brownies, I don’t love them enough to get cancer.  Am I saying I’m never going to eat cookies or have a beer?  No.  But I am saying this info is going to make me think a lot longer next time I’m craving something sweet.

You should also check out this video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth.

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6 thoughts on “Does sugar cause cancer?

    • I know right? Sad and kind of grossed out :( There’s no way I’m giving up sugar but it will at least make me think twice next time I go to grab a brownie.

  1. Just found your blog through Alyssa’s at Fit and Fun in Third and I love it! I haven’t read this article yet but I want to – I’ve been listening to the Nutrition Diva podcasts on the way to work lately and she has a few about added sugars and they’re pretty interesting.

    I’ll definitely be back – love the blog!

    • Welcome to Whit Likes Fit. Great to have you :) Definitely an interesting (long) article. It makes sense but also makes me sad. I love cookies but I don’t want them to give me cancer.

  2. I’d been reading stuff like this in the last couple of years, and so about a year ago (or maybe 2? I can’t remember) we stopped buying sugar. We still will eat it in stuff if someone makes it, or we’re out or whatever, but we don’t have it on hand to use ourselves. It’s hard though – sugar is just so tasty.

    • That’s a really great idea, to just not buy it. We always have sugar in our pantry which can sometimes lead to random cookie baking situations. Once we’re out of what we have now I’ll see if I can just avoid making the purchase. Thanks for the tip.

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