- Most health experts believe that sugar itself doesn’t cause cancer, but having too much fat cells does.
- However, some cancer experts believe that having high insulin levels can trigger some types of cancer.
- The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute and other experts say that obesity, and not sugar, causes cancer.
The cells in your body get energy from blood sugar (glucose), which you get from the food you eat like desserts, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and carbs.
Cancer cells need large amounts of sugar to grow and multiply. However, there is not enough evidence to show that reducing sugar intake prevents cancer, except for the esophagus. According to a recent study, sugar and sweetened drinks increase the risk of esophagus cancer by over 70%.
Cancer and Obesity
The American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute and other experts say that obesity, and not sugar, causes cancer.
Fat cells release adipokine, a DMA-damaging, and tumor-forming inflammatory protein. More fat cells mean having more of these proteins and being at higher risk of at least 13 types of cancer, including breast, liver, and colon cancer.
Cancer and Sugar
Still, some cancer experts believe that sugar can drive cancer. Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, in particular, believes that high levels of insulin may trigger some types of cancer. Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use glucose for energy, and sugar dictates insulin levels.
What to Eat
Despite the opposing view of experts about the link between sugar and cancer, it will still be beneficial for your health to reduce your sugar intake. According to research, women should limit their sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons a day, and 9 teaspoons for men. The majority of Americans consume about 22 teaspoons daily, which is equal to 130 pounds of sugar in a year. This means Americans have high insulin levels and are, therefore, at higher risk of cancer.
Is it okay to fruits, then, since it also has sugar in the form of fructose? According to Peiying Yang, Ph.D., a cancer researcher and associate professor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, fruits can be included in a regular diet, but eating more vegetables is recommended.
What to Watch Out For
It can be challenging to keep track of all the sugar you eat as you may not expect it to find in foods like soups, salad dressings, yogurt, ketchup, instant oatmeal, nut milk, and hot dogs.
Also, sugar is called by other names on food labels. There are actually 60 names for added sugar, including maltose, sucrose, glucose, and other ingredients that end in “ose.” Other foods that you may also not expect to contain sugar are fruit nectar, corn, rice, and maple syrups, honey, molasses, and agave.