Sugar & Cancer: A Not-so-Sweet Connection
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on May 11, 2013 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Who doesn’t love a little sugar? It’s undoubtedly one of the most satisfying and pleasurable of tastes. But sugar consumption has been rising steadily over the last few decades, and, alongside it, so have a host of health complications, including cancer.
One of the main reasons for sugar’s dramatic increase is the food industry’s clever ability to disguise it under many different names. Here’s a partial list of other names that your sugar may be hiding under:
corn syrup solids
fruit juice concentrate
high-fructose corn syrup
How does excess sugar possibly contribute to cancer? Along with disrupting blood glucose levels, contributing to obesity, diabetes, and inflammation, raising triglycerides, and suppressing our immune system, too much glucose promotes a more acidic environment in the body. This forces our internal buffering systems to work much harder to re-establish and maintain the narrow pH (7.35-7.45) that our body requires, in order to function. The energy needed for this buffering, comes at the expense of other important metabolic processes that could otherwise be made, including repair of damaged cellular DNA. Mutations to our DNA are ongoing, but our body is constantly monitoring, fixing, or destroying damaged cells, to avoid their proliferation. If our body is using its valuable resources to manage and correct other imbalances in our system, then damaged DNA may go undetected or unchecked, leading to unregulated cell growth and tumour formation, i.e., cancer.
Healthy ways to include sugar in your diet, without compromising your health? Eat plenty of fresh vegetables (the more colorful your selection, the more protective antioxidants you’re getting), whole grains (complex carbohydrates) rather than processed and refined carbohydrates, and moderate amounts of fruit.
Note: If you have any medical condition, including cancer, always inform your medical doctor of any dietary supplements (including herbs) or complementary medicine approaches you are considering, before doing so.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan