Sweetening yourself to death: The relationship between sugar and cancer
By Causenta Wellness
Does Sugar Cause Cancer?
So much information is made available pertaining to our sugar intake and its impact on our health. But what should you believe? Does the sweetener cause cancer or does it act as a food source for these cells, allowing them to grow at a more rapid rate? How does the sugar we do ingest affect our health?
What is Glucose?
In its simplest form, sugar is known as glucose. This is the fuel that helps every cell in our body have the energy to function properly and do their jobs, which in turn helps us to survive. However, with this being a disease directly affecting our cells, this is where the relationship between sweeteners and cancers truly begins.
Because these type of diseased cells tend to grow at a rapid rate, they need a lot of energy. While glucose is a great food source for this growth, it is not the only place these cells can find energy. They also get it from amino acids and fats.
Will Taking Sugars Out of My Food Help?
Performing a quick Google search on the subject typically brings up two common myths. The first is that sugar causes the disease, and the second being that cutting this food source from your diet will help to prevent it.
However, it has been found that sweets do not make these cells grow any faster. Similarly, cutting sweets from your meals will not cause these cells to slow their growth. While it is true that these cells, which tend to use more energy, absorb more glucose, it has not been found to be true that cutting sugar from your diet will starve these cells at all, despite the popular myth that it will.
Your body will not let you starve to death. As such, when your glucose level falls below a certain point as a result of not eating enough carbs, your body will use the resources it has available to create its own glucose. As a result, it is impossible to starve your body of glucose in the hope of putting a stop to the disease.
Some evidence does exist, however, that people who eat large quantities of sweets could have an increased risk of certain types of the disease. If nothing else, it can certainly lead to additional weight gain, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes, both of which come with a greater risk of the disease.
A 2014 study performed in Japan looking at 816 cases of colorectal cancer and 815 community controls took a closer look at any link between eating large quantities of sweet foods and an increased risk of cancer. In the end, the results did not show an increased risk for men or women. Interestingly, they did find an increased risk for men who smoked and for men who had never consumed alcohol. Body mass index was not found to have a correlation for men or women.
Meanwhile, a 2017 study found a 71% risk increase in Barrett’s esophagus. Beginning in the form of chronic heartburn, Barrett’s esophagus is capable of turning into a lethal disease. Scientists who took part in the study suggest that limiting your intake of foods or beverages that are high in glucose could reduce your risk of the development of BE.
How to Reduce the Glucose in Your Meal Plan
So how do you reduce the amount of glucose you are consuming? One suggestion is to look at the ingredient labels of the products you eat. The biggest source of glucose is sweetened beverages; other popular sources include cookies, cakes, and pies. However, pasta, canned vegetables and salad dressings all can have sweeteners hiding inside.
Instead, it is suggested that you consider natural fructose. Things like molasses, honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup all offer a sweet addition to any meal while containing antioxidants that help to protect the body from disease.
Despite being a better, natural option, these ingredients still have as many calories as regular glucose, so it is important to stick to the suggested daily intake for glucose when using them. For women, that is six teaspoons per day, while men are able to have nine teaspoons.
It is important to note that it is the added glucose, not those that occur naturally, that you will want to consume less of. It is these foods that are higher in calories and lead to weight gain and obesity, which in turn can increase your risk of disease.
Consider drinking unsweetened tea or sparkling water instead of those sugary beverages. Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon or ginger can be added to your meal in place of sugars. In addition, fruit or dried fruit is a great replacement for sugars in oatmeal, cereal, or even your nightly dessert. In terms of packaged foods, look for those with minimal amounts of added sugars, such as plain yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or frozen fruit that comes free of added sugars or syrup.
What about artificial sweeteners? While a definitive link connecting artificial sweeteners to cancers has not been identified yet, it is still a good practice to avoid these sugary substances until more research has been performed on the matter.
Our Bodies Need Sugars
Cutting sugars and carbohydrates from your meals can actually have detrimental effects. Your body needs these nutrients for energy. If you are not consuming enough of these to energize your body, your cells will find a way to create their own glucose, typically by eating muscle first, then moving on to stored fat.
Instead of cutting out these necessary foods from your meals, suggestions for preventing cancers include eating meals that are high in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, staying physically active can be incredibly beneficial. All of this will help you to stay at a healthy weight, which will in turn help reduce your risk of cancers.
In the end, it is OK to consume sugars in limited quantities. For those with a sweet tooth, look to natural substitutes such as spices and fruits to lessen your chances of getting cancers.