Research Sheds Light on Sugar-Cancer Link

Sugar in wooden spoon and stethoscope | Image by jcomp/Freepik

While high sugar intake has long been suspected of playing a role in the development of cancer, new research sheds more light on this mysterious connection.

Several studies suggest a strong correlation between a person’s sugar intake and his risk of developing cancer, yet researchers have only begun to uncover the pathways through which this occurs.

“The relationship between sugar and cancer is a complicated one,” explained Dr. Jeremy Kortmansky, associate professor of medical oncology at the Yale School of Medicine and clinical director of the Yale Cancer Center’s Division of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, according to The Epoch Times.

Although obesity — a rampant public health issue in the United States — reportedly carries a heightened risk of acquiring other serious health conditions, including certain types of cancer, the ways in which sugar intake alone contributes to cancer need to be investigated further, Kortmansky said.

Empirical evidence of the sugar-cancer link abounds.

For instance, one study conducted in Spain between 2003 and 2010 among 7,447 older adults with elevated cardiovascular risks found that while the intake of simple sugars did not seem to impact their risk for cancer, every 5 grams of added sugar in liquid form per day heightened it by 8%.

Another investigation tracking the consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks in over 35,000 Australian participants between 1990 and 1994 and 2003 and 2007 found that those who drank more than one such beverage a day had an 18% higher chance of developing cancer than those who did not.

One theory is that cancerous cells need more sugar than normal cells to survive, consuming glucose — not oxygen, as normal cells do — at a 200 times faster rate through a metabolic pathway called glycolysis.

“Cancer cells, in some sense, hijack metabolic processes in the body,” explained Lorenzo Cohen, professor and director of the integrative medicine program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, per The Epoch Times.

High sugar intake coupled with low physical activity can lead to weight gain, which also contributes to the development of cancer. Body fat secretes hormones, disturbing the balance of the endocrine system. This can also lead to insulin resistance and higher levels of inflammation.

As previously covered in The Dallas Express, several studies have pointed to the inflammatory effects of consuming highly processed foods, which often contain added sugars. Inflammation not only disturbs the body’s metabolism, but it can also put a strain on the heart and blood vessels, as well as contribute to depression.

Moreover, Thomas Seyfried, a professor of biology at Boston College, suggested to The Epoch Times last year that inflammation and insulin resistance can lead to more gene mutations, which also can contribute to the development of cancer.

“Once people understand that cancer is a metabolic disease, then you will begin to see a very big reduction in death and greatly improved quality of life and survival,” Seyfried said, stressing how cancerous cells cannot survive without sugar for fuel.

Both he and Kortmansky recommended limiting the intake of added sugars as much as possible as well as engaging in regular physical activity to reduce one’s cancer risk.

“That’s the best way to control the sugar that is in our system,” Kortmansky said, per The Epoch Times.

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