Sugar is everywhere in the modern diet and there’s no doubt that it’s making us obese, fatigued, and sick. You can’t turn on the television without one commercial after another advertising candy, soda, or sugary breakfast cereals.
While many of us have an intuition or research that makes us leery of sugar, there is plenty of media trying to convince us otherwise. Remember the “it’s just corn” commercials claiming that high fructose corn sugar dangers were all in our heads and that HFCS is similar to “just eating fruit?”
Except for the minor detail that corn is not the same thing at all and the higher fructose content has a huge impact on our bodies. All calories are not equal and that’s especially important to remember when it comes to sugar.
It’s true that the cells in your body use “sugar” as a fuel source but it runs more efficiently on natural sources such as vegetables and fruits. The sugar I’m talking about here is the processed, empty calorie kind. It provides nothing in the way of nutrition or sustainable energy…but it could be taking a lot from your body.
Sugar in the United States is often made from sugar beets and corn. The majority of all sugar beet and corn crops are genetically modified (GMO). (1)
A Focused Media Blitz that Works
The primary demographic of the sugar campaign is young people and that makes me furious. Kids’ sugar intake is ten times higher than it was in 1900 – it’s the main source of their dietary calories – and nothing good is coming from it. As a mom, I’ve watched the trends change from (not so good) when I was a kid to absolutely awful today. (2)
It should shock me but it doesn’t that the population in the United States consumes an average of about 170 pounds of sugar annually. That means a bunch of people eat less (like my family and probably yours) so many others are eating even more.
The way society is eating shows in our health statistics. In all our history, we’ve never been sicker. Cases of diabetes, heart disease, obesity (and childhood obesity), neurological disorders, behavioral disorders, autoimmune diseases, and cancer are out of control. Consider this:
1890: 3-in-100,000 people diagnosed with diabetes
2012: 8,000-in-100,000 people diagnosed with diabetes
Modern medical technology struggles to keep up with our sickening society but you can’t fix a problem like this with a machine or a pill. This requires an evaluation of what we’re eating, how much we’re eating, and what it’s doing to our health (as well as an adjustment in some important lifestyle factors like sleep, toxin exposure and stress).
The long-term effects of this seemingly harmless enemy are well documented. Countless studies show the dangers of sugar on human health, but have done nothing to change the massive use of it in our food supply. Even foods you wouldn’t necessarily consider “sweet” (like bread, yogurt, and oatmeal) are packed with sugar.
Sugar cravings have a scientific basis. In a shocking study in France, Dr. Serge Ahmed offered his rats a choice between table sugar and cocaine. They chose the sugar (and the resulting dopamine) just like so many of us do. You get the “high,” feel great, start to crash, and go for more sugar to get the “high” back again.
The Link Between Sugar and Cancer
You know what else loves sweets? Cancer cells.
When sugar molecules attach to the proteins in your body, it is called glycosylation. Cells like these are present in high quantities in most types of cancer tissue. Though they were identified long ago, the findings were ignored since they were believed to be harmless. It was only recently that scientists fit the pieces together. It changed everything they knew about the sugar-cancer connection.
Researchers with the University of Copenhagen confirmed that not only are these sugar byproducts present in tumors, they actively stimulate growth. Author Catharina Steentoft said, “It is a rather big step forward since it gives us an entirely new understanding of something we have worked many years to grasp. It guides our entire field of research towards new ways to proceed in the battle against cancer.” (3)
Simply put, cancer cells love sugar and grow really well when you eat it.
Here’s why: When you eat sugars (good and bad ones), your body produces insulin to regulate the effect on your blood, metabolism, and cell growth. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your pancreas must produce.
Eventually, your body doesn’t react to the insulin as effectively so your body makes even more. This is called insulin resistance and it’s a condition that 70 million Americans have that can eventually lead to full diabetes when the pancreas finally fails.
Healthy and cancerous cells use the hormone insulin to fuel growth so the more you have, the more cancer grows, multiplies, and spreads.
Harvard Medical School Cancer Center researchers found that 80% of all cancers mutate and mimic the effect of insulin. Their current focus is the creation of an insulin inhibitor for use in cancer treatment protocols. (4)
This may be part of the reason that cancer rates and diabetes rates seem to be rising at about the same pace. Listen to this podcast episode with Paul Jaminet on the Perfect Health Diet, Carbs, and Cancer Research.
University Rey Juan Carlos researchers identified that catenin, a protein used in the formation and growth rate of cancer cells, relies solely on blood sugar levels.
The findings, published in Molecular Cell, were explained by team member Dr. Custodia Garcia-Jimenez. “We were surprised to realize that changes in our metabolism caused by dietary sugar impact our cancer risk. Changing diet is one of easiest prevention strategies that can potentially save a lot of suffering and money.” (5)
There is no doubt that we’re all getting too much sugar in our diets. We need to get off this up and down “sugar high” ride and kick the habit for good
Experts estimate that more than half of the cancers diagnosed in the world are preventable. Removing refined sugars from your daily eating plan is an excellent step in the right direction.
There are several new ways that experts are fighting cancer in 26 countries around the world, and some astonishing methods being used that are virtually unknown in the United States.
1. United States Department of Agriculture; USDA to Deregulate Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Consumption of Added Sugars Among US Adults
3. Science Daily; Specific Sugar Molecule Causes Growth of Cancer Cells
4. The New York Times; Is Sugar Toxic?
5. Science Daily; Excess Sugar Linked to Cancer
How much sugar does your family consume? Were you aware of the link between sugar and cancer? Share below!
Discussion (69 Comments)
I respect the fact that you are science based and research oriented so you might enjoy this article that brings in more information about the cancer and sugar link!
Ihave a real sweet tooth and have always been trying to reduce the sugar intake for the reasons listed in the article.
I have a 6 months old baby and we have just started weaning. Started from avocado, kale and sweet potato however when I share this with any other mums I am being criticised for introducing “difficult to digest”, “dangerous” for my baby stomach foods etc… Everyone, and I really mean everyone starts with sugar raising baby rice which doesn’t give any nutritional value and only raises blood sugar in their babies. I really cant understand this. It feels like a fight against the world when you try to do a good thing.
It so nice to hear someone else besides me starting my 7 month out on avocado and sweet potatoes! I take a lot of criticism for the healthy way I do things, especially for my children and it use to bother me but anymore I just let it go in one ear and out the other. I know I am doing what is best for my children’s health and unfortunately someday the critics will see the difference if they continue to make poor nutrition choices. Keep up the good work and food! 😉
Glad to hear! We started our 6 months old boy also on avocado, sweet potatoes and have introduced meat, (chicken and beef) cooked in stock. Working on making broth but have done only 12 hours of cooking so not quite broth although there is some jelly in our stock.
I just want to say that the best time to introduce healthy foods is when your children are young. Our family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, and my husband had triple bypass at 46. My concern is for my 6 children ages ranging from 25 down to 11. They have been very resistant to food changes, and the 2 eldest have been diagnosed with high blood pressure in the last 2 years since their father’s heart surgery. My goal isn’t to bore you with these details, but to encourage you to keep on keeping on with good, healthy eating habits for your babies. There’s the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The fact is that it’s easier to start them off on a good healthy path than to try and change bad habits.
Good on you, stick to your guns! I was introduced to the Weston A Price Foundation baby food recommendations just before weaning my first child and we haven’t looked back. I highly recommend checking it out.
Does raw organic cane juice also feed our cancer cells? That’s what I use in sweet tea and baked goods.
So sad. And so many people do NOT want to hear this message. I don’t know any families (in real life, obviously not the blogosphere) who eat the way we do. Even the “low-sugar” families are simply swapping it out with Splenda. Junk for junk, not a big improvement.
My kids think I’m the not cool parent in the neighborhood. Our house is definitely not the most fun hang out spot: no video game systems & we only offer real foods for snacks. Even my homemade Popsicles, which my kids enjoy are somehow embarrassing when offered to their friends. I often find snack wrappers in my son’s pocket from other people’s houses; I wish I could put a “please don’t feed my kid” sign on the front & back of his shirt.
While I’ll allow that I can’t stop a grown adult from making their own bad decisions like smoking, too much alcohol, or excessive sugar, it just drives me crazy to think that we are poisoning our children!
I know the feeling Beth, I make everything we eat from fresh fruits and veggies and eat mea on a rare basis, everything is organic. Though people know that we eat differently we are considered the outsiders and weird ones for doing that. I am okay with it. Just so you know that you are doing what you can for your children and yourselves is all that matters.
Beth, I am in the same boat. I give my kids healthy food at home but when they started school, they want the same snacks that other kids eat. Also hate the companies that tries to market kids snack with their favorite characters on the cover. one day my son asked me to pack watermelon in a ziploc bag. I usually don’t pack snacks in the ziploc bags. When asked he said that his friend brings it that way.
I am trying my best to teach my kids the right choices in food. Hope they grown up to make the right decisions.
Thank you!! I am an oncology nurse and a health coach. Signed up for the online series and can’t wait to hear the truth about cancer!!
I am aware of it. Although I am yet to control myself better. While I don’t buy sugary stuff for my daughter, check labels for hidden sugar before buying groceries and buy fruit and vegetables instead, personally I struggle to stop eating sweet treats when out of home (at work, when my daughter is not with me). It is probably linked to my growing up eating habits. At my parents house we always had cookies, cake, candies or other treats around, either store bought or homemade. Developing a sweet tooth was an obvious consequence, and I have found extremely hard to get over this.
If I can suggest a post, I would ask for how to create new eating habits specially around leaving behind the sugar.
Thank you for all of the information, especially the link to Truth About Cancer. On a side note, I tried to order a copy of your cookbook. I could only find a $2700 copy! Do you plan to make any more available in the near future?
It’s not currently on Amazon, but there are still a few copies left here: https://wellnessmama.com/123815/wellness-mama-cookbook/. Hopefully I’ll be reprinting soon.
I’ve been looking for months!!! I’d love to buy a copy of and when it’s available again! Also in regard to this article, I sub honey as my sweetener and I wonder if it would have the same problems as sugar.
Congratulations on Baby #6!
I have been following you for some time now and love so many of your recipes. I felt like you were on quest for wellness and I appreciate this last blog. I too have lost too many people to cancer. My grandfather was so special to me and he died when I was 13. I remember going to work with him at his restaurant and going to the farmers market and sitting in his office and he always told me he was going to pay for my wedding when I grew up. I was lucky because I was the first grand child so I got more time with him.
I never user a microwave. I try to never wear my phone on my body and I eat whole foods as much as possible.
Thanks for what you are doing!
Great article. I for one have read many times that cancer and sugar are linked. Loved the way you worded this and thanks for bringing this to Wellness Mama. Hoping this article will wake up people to the dangers of sugar.
I have a couple of friends that have survived breast cancer and I continue to see them eat the way they used to, breaks my heart. But I also understand that the addiction to sugar is difficult to break.
I have known two women with very healthy, low sugar diets suffer from breast cancer. You cannot prevent cancer simply by dietary adjustments. There is a link but let’s not make the jump that sugar=cancer and no sugar=no cancer.
That is a great point to make Leah. I have always watched my diet and have had breast cancer and now I’m dealing with lymphoma. My next effort will have to look at genetics or accept that my cancer could be environmentally caused. Regardless, good diet is important but will not solely protect you.
I also had lymphoma 5 years ago and did a lot of research. I believe that cancer grows in an acidic body and I did everything possible to make my body more alkaline. This included cutting out sugar, caffeine, chocolate and alcohol although I did not drink much. I got used to drinking lemon water with a pinch of bicarb of soda in it which alkalises the body. I have been cancer free for 5 years even though my doctor said I would have it back in 6 months.
Marjorie it seems you did the right thing.
You are so accurate about the acidic environment.
I also read about baking soda and alkalizing the body.
Stress can also shut down the system and make the body acidic.
May you stay cancer free for a LONG time 🙂
Stress, sugar, acidity are all bad sources. Boosting immune system and removing a cancer-promoting environment is key. Danish researchers at The University of Copenhagen have found methylated selenium to important in anti-cancerous immune functions. I first read the information on selenium and apoptosis/anti-angiogenesis in an easy to understand article here: https://www.healthandscience.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=287:selenium-compounds-fights-cancer&lang=en
Totally Alice 🙂
I hope you recover soon. Lots of things are associated to cancer not just what we eat.
What we put in our body, and on our body. The environment, our lifestyle, the career we are in, the stress level and the temperament we have.
We can eat all the kale in the world but if we are stressing over the job or fighting with our spouse daily, it won’t help as much.
Sugar does have a correlation of course but healthy people who do not consume a lot of sugar still get diseases and maybe its time to look at the mind. I love the book by Lissa Rankin Mind over medicine.
I did not quite say that, but it is always a good idea to watch what you eat for many other health reasons, one of them being cancer.
Of course, sugar is just one component. Soy intake, use of antiperspirants, plastic food storage, and industrial household cleaners are also components, among others. Do your research, I’ve used diet and herbs to cure my autoimmune diseases, answers are out there you just have to get past the corporate sponsored meaningless research to get to the truths.
Hi Chris young,
would you kindly tell me what you did to cure auto immune disease. Any information iwould be helpful.
Thankyou so much
It only takes 3 days to get rid of the physical cravings of sugar IF you eliminste it. Psycological part is where people trip up and relapse. Goal is to say, “our new way of eating” and stick to your guns. Don’t beat up self if you relapse, just jump back on.
This is so true Karen.
Changing the mindset is super important . Not beating yourself up if you “fall off the wagon” either…great advice. Thank you.
So how does this play out for those of us who have replaced our sugar intake with honey? Are people who routinely add honey to their smoothies, baked goods, etc at more risk for cancer growth than those people who do not use either white sugar or honey?
I try to use stevia as an alternative to sugar. It comes from the stevia plant and I get it from Puritan”s Pride
Sugar is still sugar, but it’s okay to enjoy sweet things occasionally. Sugars closer to nature like honey and maple syrup have additional benefits and aren’t refined beyond recognition. I make all of my family’s sweet treats at home using honey, stevia, or make syrup.
Hi Dottie 🙂 Consuming “good sugar” such as honey, real maple syrup, coconut sugar is ok once in a while. I am sure even the processed sugar one in a blue moon won’t be a whole big deal. Fruits has sugar and it has vitamins and minerals. I think consuming processed sugar on a daily basis several times a day will contribute to many problems and cancer is on them. You know processed sugar in addition to the coloring, preservatives, poor lifestyle all contribute to diseases and eventually cancer.
Maybe someone who is already diagnosed with cancer or even candida should eliminate sugar even the processed one.
For example when my kids get a runny nose or a slight fever, I cut out sugar for few days even the fruits. We don’t buy anything with processed sugar in the house…but sugar is sugar. With elderberry syrup, they get better in no time. And rest of course.
Honey has great benefits especially raw unfiltered honey. I put honey in the elderberry syrup that I make ( the recipe is from katie)
Hope this helps 🙂