Sugar and Cancer


Macro photograph of a pile of sugar (saccharose)

grains of sugar

Have you ever noticed how much sugar gets “pushed” in our foods?  Pick up any packaged good in a grocery store and see whether it contains the word sugar in it.  Often, even when the product is not a dessert, sugar will be one of the first ingredients.

Labels, by law, have to list the ingredients that are in the product being sold.  What if the label states sugar: 0 grams? That’s good, right?  No.   If sugar is listed, even as 0 grams, it means the product contains sugar, just not a whole gram.  But it might contain as much as 99 mg.   I have found that even the brands that tout themselves as being healthy end up having some sugar somewhere.

I should add that some products come about their sugar honestly.  The product itself, ie, a canned fruit product, will naturally have sugar in it.  But a cracker will most likely have added sugar put in.  People like the flavor of sugar and marketing firms have done lots of tests that demonstrate that products with sugar are higher sellers than those without sugar.

Why did I become so interested in the sugar content of our foods?  Last December, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver.  This is a very scary diagnosis with grim prognosis.  What does one do when confronted with such a situation?  Hopefully, one has friends that kick into high gear and help with major amounts of research.  We did and this led us to the Block Institute for Re-integrative Cancer Care in Skokie, IL

At the Block Center, we learned that cancer actually feeds off of sugar.  More and more research confirms this.  Conner Middelmann Whitney, a Nutritionist and writer for Psychology Today cites a study done at UCLA:

To assess the effect of fructose on cancer cells, UCLA researchers added glucose to one set of human pancreatic cancer cells and fructose to another set of cells. After letting the cells interact with the sugars, both fructose and glucose were found to increase cancer cell growth at similar rates but through different metabolic pathways. This is the first time a link has been shown between fructose and cancer proliferation.

“In this study we show that cancers can use fructose just as readily as glucose to fuel their growth,” said Anthony Heaney, the study’s lead author. “The modern diet contains a lot of refined sugar including fructose and it’s a hidden danger implicated in a lot of modern diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and fatty liver.” While this study was done on pancreatic cancer, these findings may not be unique to that cancer type, Heaney said.

We are recording pandemic levels of not only cancer, but diabetes as well in our country.  According to the International Diabetes Federation, global diabetes has hit new highs reaching 366 million people worldwide.

These figures seem extraordinary to me.  Isn’t it time that we stop and look at how we are apparently poisoning ourselves with the large amounts of sugar that we ingest every day?  The first step is to read those labels at the supermarket. The second step is to decide that you don’t want that much sugar in your system.  After that, other doors will open up to a more sugar free world!


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