Sugar Doesn’t Just Feed Cancer, It Causes Cancer
“…the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer…”
Gary Taubes, “Is Sugar Toxic?”, New York Times Magazine, April 17, 2011
“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can…”
Craig Thompson, M.D., President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York
“Sugar scares me.”
Lewis Cantley, Professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Experts in alternative cancer treatment have been warning cancer patients for decades that they need to give up all sugar. And sugar’s role in diabetes is so well known it goes without saying.
Now these views are going mainstream in a way I’ve never seen before. We’re still a long way from seeing either the government or the medical establishment condemn sugar and warn the public to avoid it. But a few voices are being raised. In ten years I suspect most people will think of sugar about the same way they think of smoking. The day is coming.
What prompts this thought is an article entitled “Is Sugar Toxic?” that appeared in the New York Times Magazine the Sunday before last (April 17). It’s one thing for us “wackos” in the alternative cancer field to rant against sugar. But when an article like this appears in an establishment newspaper, quoting establishment medical doctors and scientists, it means there’s real progress. But that’s not what I found most interesting, this is…
I was shocked by what I didn’t know about sugar!
These Doctors Were Forced to Admit
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The Times article taught me some new things about sugar’s dangers that I didn’t know. And that’s saying something, considering how much I read about the subject. The new developments are by far the worst news about sugar I’ve ever seen. If you take heed, this news could save your life.
The evidence indicates sugar is not just another food. It’s a uniquely toxic, poisonous substance. It does strange things in and to the body.
Sugar doesn’t just feed cancer. There’s every sign sugar actually causes cancer — as well as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.Cancer Defeated has written frequently on the fact that all these problems are really one problem, but we didn’t know the exact mechanism. Now the big picture is coming clear.
And as far as I know, authorities in alternative cancer treatment have missed this new angle. Here’s what happened. . .
Among alternative cancer experts, it’s well known that cancer cells consume vast amounts of sugar — far more than healthy cells do. That’s why we tell cancer patients not to eat any sugar at all. Healthy people should eat as little as they can.
A well-known cancer treatment, insulin potentiation therapy or IPT (see Issue #33), is entirely based on cancer’s hunger for sugar. So is a mainstream medical test, the PET scan, in which a patient is injected with radioactively-tagged sugar, because the sugar will concentrate where cancer cells are found, causing the cancer cells to light up the scan like a Christmas tree.
So there’s absolutely no doubt that cancer feeds on sugar. In spite of that, few conventional cancer doctors will tell a patient to give up sugar. Most insist that what you eat makes no difference at all to your chances of beating cancer. That’s why the New York Times article is surprising.
Alternative cancer experts are ahead of the mainstream on this important subject. But anybody can get too absorbed in his own little field, and maybe that’s what happened. Those of us who research and write about alternative treatments have been totally absorbed with the way cancer cells metabolize sugar, but it turns out the real story is how a healthy body metabolizes sugar.
Cutting through the myths
and debunking the urban legends
Some experts will tell you that sucrose — granulated table sugar — is a bit healthier than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the sweetener found in sodas and almost every manufactured, processed food — even bread. These experts believe HFCS is the devil that’s the source of many problems.
Other experts will tell you that fruit is completely healthy, even though it’s high in fructose. And still others will tell a cancer patient that a carb is a carb is a carb, i.e. the digestive process turns all carbs — potatoes, white rice, fruit, granulated sugar AND HFCS — into blood sugar (glucose), so you need to cut back or cut out all these foods. These experts say not just sugar but ALL carbohydrates feed cancer.
It turns out all of these beliefs are off the mark or even dead wrong.
First, take the idea that granulated sugar — sucrose, made from sugar cane or beets — is different from HFCS. Wrong. They’re essentially the same thing. Each is roughly half glucose and half fructose. It’s the fructose that does the harm, as I’ll explain shortly. Because health food advocates have created a storm about HFCS the last few years, some food manufacturers are switching back to cane sugar/sucrose and touting their products as “fructose free”. In this case, the health nuts are wrong. It makes no difference.
I was disappointed to learn that fresh fruit MAY be a problem for cancer patients. It’s high in fructose, the type of sugar the body has trouble metabolizing. Several years ago, I started making the switch from a typical American diet to a diet high in raw foods. Fresh fruit was a large part of my new eating plan, because I like it.
Now I have to tell you, if the new findings hold up, fresh fruit probably isn’t a good idea for cancer patients. You should definitely eat fresh, raw foods — but those foods should be vegetables. Fruit consumption should be low to moderate. I’m basing this on the new theory. As yet, there’s not much clinical evidence. But if you’re fighting cancer, play it safe.
Fruit IS rich in vitamins, minerals and many other phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants). If you cut out fruit you’ll need to take appropriate supplements. An example would be wine, which some people think is a health food. It’s not. It’s a megadose of sugar, even if it does contain some valuable nutrients. But you can get some of the benefits of wine by taking resveratrol supplements.
Use moderation, take small steps
If you don’t have cancer, I believe moderate fruit consumption is still a good idea.
But don’t do what I did for several years and make fruit a huge part of your diet. I believed and hoped it was a healthy way to keep indulging in sweets. Bad idea. By eating fruit, I was taking in tons of antioxidants, bioflavonoids and other good things, but also tons of fructose.
One thing fruit has going for it is that the fructose comes packaged with a large amount of fiber. Fiber fills you up, and has many other benefits too numerous to cover here. If you’re in the habit of living on sodas, cakes, cookies and doughnuts, it’s not likely you’ll ever eat enough fruit to even touch the amount of sugar you get from these processed foods.
That means switching from these sugary foods to fresh fruit is a huge step in the right direction. A switch to no sweets at all is probably more than most people can handle. So, as long as you don’t have cancer, a switch to fresh fruit is a good first step. But if you do have cancer, my view is that you need to stop EVERYTHING that contains either fructose OR sucrose.
Now for a good word about a few carbs. . .
To continue with the myth-debunking, the good news is that potatoes, rice and similar carbs may not be so bad. These contain neither sucrose nor fructose. The body breaks them down into glucose, the same kind of sugar that circulates in your blood.
All of your cells can directly utilize glucose with a minimum of effort. This type of sugar — this type of carb — puts the least strain on your body. The new theory is that fructose puts a unique, one-of-a-kind strain on the body that may be THE key to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cancer. If this theory is true (and it sure looks to me like it is), then potatoes and rice aren’t strongly implicated in these degenerative diseases, even though they’re carbohydrates.
I don’t recommend binging on these safer carbs, but it’s okay to eat moderate amounts — very moderate, if you’re a cancer patient.
Wheat is another story. Like rice and potatoes, wheat products are metabolized into glucose and seem to belong in the category of comparatively “safe” carbs. But allergy to wheat is so widespread in our society, I recommend giving it up anyway.
I don’t want to digress here on the many dangers of wheat. I’ll just say that if you suffer from ANY chronic disease — from arthritis to heart disease to indigestion — avoid wheat. Try giving it up for a few months. There’s a good chance your medical problems will diminish or completely disappear.
One hundred calories doesn’t equal one hundred calories
One of the dearly held beliefs of weight loss experts is that one calorie equals another. If you want to lose weight, it’s a matter of calories in, calories out. If you don’t burn up every calorie you eat, the excess is added to your flab.
If you want to lose a pound of weight, you have to burn up 3,500 more calories than you eat — and it doesn’t matter if the calories you give up are fats or carbohydrates, steaks or chocolate cake. You’re not going to lose the pound until you eat 3,500 fewer calories.
The new theory casts serious doubt on this old belief. One calorie isn’t just like another. A hundred calories from fructose are NOT like a hundred calories of protein or even glucose, the kind of sugar your body’s cells can take in directly.
There’s something different about fructose. I’m going to briefly explain what it is. If you have a taste for science and you’d like to know the details, check out a 90-minute Youtube lecture by an M.D. named Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Lustig is an expert on child obesity and a leading critic of sugar — both table sugar and HFCS — because both these sugars basically come down to fructose. He’s the source of most of what was in the New York Times Magazine article and most of what I’m telling you here.
He didn’t conduct the scientific studies himself, but he’s a very effective speaker and he passionately believes sugar is a poison. He actually uses the word “poison” 13 times in his lecture. You can quickly find his talk by Googling “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”.
The two-minute explanation of how fructose messes you up
The quick summary is that, unlike glucose, fructose has to be metabolized in the liver by way of a very complex and inefficient process. Your digestive system quickly breaks down a potato or a grain of rice into glucose, the “good” sugar. The glucose then passes through your intestinal wall into your bloodstream, and your cells are able to take it up and “eat it” with no problem.
Not so with fructose. Your liver has to convert fructose into glucose, the food your cells can take up. It’s about like trying to turn a bowl of fish soup into a fish. The resulting process is so complex it puts a great strain on the liver. And here’s the thing researchers say is key: 30 percent of the fructose is converted into fat and stays in your liver.
The growing load of fat in your liver causes disastrous damage over a period of many years. It appears to be the main cause of “metabolic syndrome” or “insulin resistance syndrome” — the breakdown in your insulin system that leads to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension — and cancer.
Glucose good (sort of), fructose bad (definitely)
If you eat “good” glucose-generating carbs, only one calorie out of five is stored in the liver. What’s more, it’s stored in a harmless form called glycogen. Your liver can store any amount of glycogen without getting sick.
When you eat fructose, three calories out of five are stored in the liver — three times as many as when you eat glucose. And the fructose calories are stored in the liver as a highly toxic fat.
The researchers in the field believe this accumulation of toxic fat in the liver is THE cause of the chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Fructose is a dietary catastrophe
According to Dr. Lustig, eating a high-fructose diet is effectively like eating a high-fat diet. That means you can think you’re following a so-called low-fat diet when you really aren’t at all. For more than 30 years, conventional medicine has told us to cut way back on fats for a healthy heart. Eat all the carbs you want, they’ve told us, eat all the pasta you want, but give up fats, especially saturated fats like those found in beef or butter or even guacamole.
In his lecture, Dr. Lustig provides persuasive evidence that this advice is all nonsense. You can eat a very low fat diet, but if you eat a lot of sugar — and Americans eat MASSIVE amounts of it — you’ll still get fat. You’ll still have an unhealthy heart and unhealthy arteries, you’ll have hypertension, and very likely you’ll get diabetes or cancer.
You can eat and eat and still feel hungry
Fructose has another oddity: You can eat a huge amount of calories and still feel hungry. Dr. Lustig says a kid can drink a Coke containing 200 calories and still go into McDonald’s raving hungry and eat a heaping plate of food. The reason is that fructose does not suppress ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.”
When you’re hungry, your stomach and pancreas secrete ghrelin, and this hormone signals your brain that you need to eat. You feel hungry. Once you’ve eaten, ghrelin production falls off and you don’t feel hungry anymore. Unless you’ve eaten fructose.
Ghrelin levels don’t go down after consuming fructose, according to Dr. Lustig. You still feel hungry even though you’ve taken on board a huge dose of calories.
It gets worse. Most food stimulates the body to produce leptin, a chemical that signals the brain you’ve had something to eat. According to Dr. Lustig, this response fails to occur if the food is high in fructose. Your brain never gets the message you’re full.
Fructose literally changes the way your brain perceives what you’ve eaten. You don’t know whether you’re hungry or not, you don’t know whether you’ve eaten or not. Sometimes a new-agey alternative doctor will tell a sick person, “You’re out of touch with your body.” I”ll say!
Now you know why you’re sick. . .
Fructose is a likely answer if not THE answer. There are other factors involved — certainly toxic chemicals and heavy metals, in the case of cancer. But fructose looks more and more like a major explanation for our problems. I’m convinced we’d see a rapid increase in health and well-being in our society if every gram of sugar disappeared tomorrow, for good.
Instead, we eat five times the amount of fructose people ate a hundred years ago. And most of their fructose calories were from fruit. Most of ours are from the pure junk, like mainlining heroin.
Here’s a thought form the New York Times article: “One of the diseases that increases in incidence with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is cancer. . .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.” (We wrote about the diabetes-cancer connection in issue #35.)
The Times also quotes Craig Thompson, President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. While the article does the usual song and dance that we need more studies (and it’s true; we do), Dr. Thompson dropped this bombshell:
“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can, because I believe that ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.”
This comes from the very heart of America’s cancer establishment. If the world’s leading enemies of alternative medicine are saying this. . .well, you do the math.
You’re an addict even if you don’t know
In his lecture, Dr. Lustig draws a fascinating comparison between alcoholism and a high level of fructose consumption. Fructose generates eight of the 12 health problems associated with alcoholism: hypertension, heart disease, chronic inflamed pancreas, liver dysfunction. . .and eight other diseases, including addiction.
I’ll testify to the addiction bit, based on personal experience. Sugar is incredibly hard to give up. My own weakness is pastries, not candy or sodas. But when I was a child, I did drink soda by the gallon. Popcorn or pizza were unthinkable without a soft drink. To this day, I find sweets the most satisfying foods.
But don’t look for the FDA or other authorities to get excited about the addiction problem. They don’t have a long-term orientation. And warning the public about sugar would be like admitting that nutrition matters — that alternative health experts have been right all along.
Everyone knows alcohol is a toxin because it immediately affects the brain. There’s no mistaking it. It’s an “acute toxin.” When you’ve had a drink you feel it within minutes, and hopefully you have enough sense not to drive. But fructose is what Dr. Lustig calls a “chronic toxin,” and the FDA and other authorities have no interest in those. They don’t look at long-term effects.
Most people know that excessive, long-term use of alcohol damages your liver. But that’s not the reason it’s so heavily regulated. The government is all over alcohol because of what it does to you within 20 minutes, not 20 years. But, says Dr. Lustig, a can of Coke is as bad for your liver as a can of beer in terms of the number of calories that hit your liver, and the stress the beverage puts on the organ. Soda belly, he says, equals beer belly.
The difference between an “acute toxin” and a “chronic toxin” is crucial. If you cut fructose out of your life, I’m confident you WILL see results, but not overnight results. This is a long-term issue. Most of us have been wrecking our health for as long as we’ve been on the planet — starting with sugary baby formulas and going on from there.
You have to give a sugar-free diet several months at least — and no “little treats” to reward yourself (you know what I’m talking about.) I’d say give it six months or a year. And better yet, combine it with a good supplement plan and a big increase in healthy vegetables (preferably uncooked) and oils.