Sugar & Cancer: A Not-so-Sweet Connection

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on May 11, 2013 by Paulina Nelega, RH

sugarWho 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:

barley malt
beet sugar
brown sugar
buttered syrup
cane-juice crystals
cane sugar
carob syrup
corn syrup
corn syrup solids
date sugar
diastatic malt
ethyl maltol
fruit juice
fruit juice concentrate
glucose solids
golden sugar
golden syrup
grape sugar
high-fructose corn syrup
invert sugar
malt syrup
raw sugar
refiner’s syrup
sorghum syrup
turbinado sugar
yellow sugar

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.

Read also: PMS

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
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

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