Indulge me this brief analogy, as it will hopefully give you food for thought …
What if I were to make the statement “Cigarettes Cause Cancer” and just leave it at that?
It’s unlikely that anyone would argue with me, most everyone would agree, and many would just be thinking … “tell me something I don’t know, duh!”
Truth be known, the statement “Cigarettes Cause Cancer” is largely incomplete. After all, not everyone who smokes gets cancer, and they certainly don’t get it from smoking just a few cigarettes. The cigarette’s relationship with cancer is a lengthy degenerative process. In fact, the more accurate statement would be something more like this:
“The habitual and repetitive act of smoking cigarettes over a lengthy course of time so degenerates the function of the respiratory system that it compromises the immune system and makes the respiratory terrain more susceptible to the appearance and growth of cancer.”
Would I be tied to a pole in the center of town and pelted with rocks and garbage? Perhaps. Just for fun, let’s apply the exact same logic from the extended cigarette quote above, changing only the underlined words as they pertain to sugar (keeping in mind that refined carbohydrates also behave as, and are, in fact sugar):
“The habitual and repetitive act of ingesting sugar & refined carbohydrates over a lengthy course of time so degenerates the function of human energy metabolism that it compromises the immune system and makes the metabolic terrain more susceptible to the appearance and growth of cancer.”
Well, when you put it that way! It doesn’t sound too far fetched does it?
What if, back in the mid 1900s, there were two respected research scientists that had completely opposing views on optimal nutrition. One believed that the over-consumption of dietary fats were a detriment to health and the root cause of disease, while the other believed that sugar was the culprit.
What if the world collectively embraced the findings of one of these scientists (Keys) and ostracized the other (Yudkin). Only to discover, some 50 years later, that they had been led down the wrong path.
What if we had hitched our wagon to Yudkin’s insights and created our dietary guidelines accordingly? Would we be experiencing an obesity/diabetes epidemic and statistical upswing of cancer cases? It’s doubtful.
Refined carbohydrates, like white sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and soft drinks are extremely dangerous for anyone trying to prevent or reverse cancer. Sugar essentially feeds tumors and encourages cancer growth. Cancer cells uptake sugar at 10-12 times the rate of healthy cells.
What if there was a commonly used test that actually demonstrates cancers attraction to sugar?
This principle is the basis of the PET (positron emission tomography) scan, one of the most accurate tools for detecting cancer growth. PET scans use radioactively labeled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumor cells. When patients drink the sugar water, it gets preferentially taken up into the cancer cells and they light up! The 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine, German Otto Warburg, PhD, discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. He found that malignant tumors exhibit increased glycolysis (a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer) as compared with normal cells.
“It puzzles me why the simple concept ‘sugar feeds cancer’ can be so dramatically overlooked as part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan” – Patrick Quillin, PHD, RD, CNS, former director of nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, OK
What if sugar created an acidic environment?
Warburg also found that cancers thrive in an acidic environment. Sugar is highly acidic. With a pH of about 6.4, it is 10 times more acidic than the ideal cellular alkaline pH at 7.4.
What if the habitual use of sugar weakened your immune system?
Sugar suppresses a key immune response known as phagocytosis (the Pac-Man like effect of the immune system). Consuming 10 teaspoons of sugar can cause about a 50% reduction in phagocytosis. Not only the amount of sugar, but also the frequency of ingesting sugar is relevant to immune function. In one study, research subjects were found to have nearly a 38% decrease in phagocytosis one hour after ingesting a moderate amount of sugar. Two hours later, the immune system was suppressed by 44% and immune function did not recover completely for a full five hours.
What if there were peer reviewed studies that demonstrated sugar’s relationship with cancer?
When sugar (in any form) is consumed, the pancreas releases insulin. Breast tissue, for example, contains insulin receptors, and insulin is a powerful stimulant of cell growth. One group of Australian researchers concluded that high levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) may actually be causative of cancers of the breast, prostate, endometrium and pancreas. A broad study conducted in 21 countries in Europe, North America and Asia concluded that sugar intake is a strong risk factor contributing to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women. A four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 healthy controls. Sugar intake was associated with more than double the cancer risk.
What if sugar consumption contributed to obesity? (Please detect the sarcasm intended in that question)
Obesity is a commonly known precursor and cause of cancer. Obesity also negatively affects survival. More than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. These include esophageal, pancreatic, kidney, gallbladder, breast and colorectal cancer.
What if a group of Belgian researchers published a peer reviewed study implicating sugar as an actual cause of cancer as recent as earlier this month?
Every media outlet, be it print, internet, television, mainstream or otherwise have been scrambling to post their version of these groundbreaking findings. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you have likely seen a version of this story.
Here’s a blurb from the abstract announcement published on October 13th, 2017:
“A nine-year joint research project conducted by VIB, KU Leuven and VUB has led to a crucial breakthrough in cancer research. Scientists have clarified how the Warburg effect, a phenomenon in which cancer cells rapidly break down sugars, stimulates tumor growth. This discovery provides evidence for a positive correlation between sugar and cancer, which may have far-reaching impacts on tailor-made diets for cancer patients. The research has been published in the leading academic journal Nature Communications.”
What if you learned that sugar wasn’t only those white crystals in your sugar bowl, or that sweetness in your coke? Did you know that the the glucose from starchy vegetables and refined carbohydrates, the maltose from grains, the lactose from milk, the fructose from fruit, etc. are all everybit “a sugar” and are metabolized in very similar ways, and at varying degrees, are also a detriment to your health if used in excess over a lengthy course of time?
Hopefully this has been helpful in connecting the dots. Again, I ask, what if sugar caused cancer, I mean …what if?
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