High Sugar Diets & Breast Cancer

Photo by Matt McCullough

Sugar is a sad staple in the modern diet. It is controversial, also, with many people saying we’ve overdramatized the detriment from sugar. Many experts noting that “sugar is found in natural foods.” While this does hold true, it is unlikely the sugar in apples is causing our health infrastructure to fall apart. It is more likely the refined, dense sugars found in processed foods. Nothing wrong with a tomato, but ketchup is an entirely different situation because it condenses the sugar experience.

Sugar is making us fat. Sugar is making us diabetic. And now sugar might be giving women breast cancer. According to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, that’s exactly what might be happening.

The findings, published in the Jan. 1 online issue of Cancer Research,demonstrated dietary sugar’s effect on an enzymatic signaling pathway known as 12-LOX (12-lipoxygenase).


“We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet,” said Peiying Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “This was due, in part, to increased expression of 12-LOX and a related fatty acid called 12-HETE.”

Past studies have shown a connection between sugar intake and breast cancer, but much of that was focused on sugar causing inflammation, which inevitably stimulates cancer. This current connection, however, as reported by manderson.org, is much more direct.

“The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors.”

Sugar isn’t good for us. We can debate this data in terms of legitimacy, but it is difficult to debate the overall dire health implications caused by over-abundance of sugar being ingested. Due to this, it is hardly a point worth debating: Lower your sugar intake, choose natural high fiber sugar sources, and you will be healthier. This study, however, is a one of a kind study linking sugar directly to breast cancer. In some ways, it is ground-breaking. From our standpoint, it is simply another warning sign that we all need to make sure we highly limit any refined sugars. Stay natural, high fiber, whole foods and you will lower your risk not only for breast cancer but many more western ailments.

Sugar has long been associated with cancer. Ketogenic diets (no carb) have been linked to fighting cancer, the core component being that cancer cells thrive on sugar, which stands to reason that cutting the sugar supply off causes them to die. Here is an example of a woman who battled brain cancer using a ketogenic diet in place of chemo (here).

So how can you cut down on sugar?

First, understand that sugar is a cycle of addiction exactly the same as cigarette and alcohol addiction. Once you cut refined sugars off, you will stop craving them. The science backs my claim up. Low carb dieters often talk about not “being hungry.” And the truth is, it isn’t that they aren’t hungry, it is just that their body only craves what it needs to survive and thrive. Second, reach for high fiber carbohydrate solutions. Beans are a great example of a high carb, high fiber experience. This will release glucose into your body slowly so that you don’t bottom out and end up craving a donut. I eat a bowl full of beans every morning just for this purpose.

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