- Can excessive sugar consumption cause cancer?
- Does sugar act as a fuel for cancer cells to flourish
- Sugar is important for us in a sense that our body relies on energy
While sugar has long been shunned by health and fitness enthusiasts for associated threats posed to human health, there is now a growing trend of establishing a link between sugar consumption and cancer management. Can excessive sugar consumption cause cancer? Does sugar act as a fuel for cancer cells to flourish and grow more aggressively? According to Cancer Research UK, while excessive refined sugar consumption is linked to triggering a host of health ailments, its direct correlation with cancer development is not yet proven. Excessive sugar consumption is one of the leading causes of health issues like diabetes, obesity among others which may make a person more susceptible to the risk of developing cancer. "The idea that sugar is responsible for kick-starting or fueling cancer growth is an over-simplification of some complicated biology," as noted on Scienceblog, online portal of Cancer Research UK.
Sugar is important for us in a sense that our body relies on energy - derived from sugar/glucose- to function properly and smoothly. "Glucose is the basic fuel that powers every single one of our cells. If we eat or drink things that are high in glucose, such as fizzy drinks, the glucose gets absorbed straight into our blood ready for our cells to use. If a starchy food, such as pasta, is on the menu, the enzymes in our saliva and digestive juices break it down and convert it into glucose. And if for some reason there's no carbohydrate in our diet, cells can turn fat and protein into glucose as a last resort, because they need glucose to survive," mentions Scienceblog.
Sugar and cancer - the link
Cancer cells are more powerful than regular cells, not only do they outwit, outperform and outnumber the healthier cells but also grow at a much faster pace. Each cell in our body requires energy to thrive, sustain, repair and multiply, the same logic applies for cancerous cells as well. But it is not just sugar (glucose) that these cells requires to grow but other nutrients like amino acids and fats as well, this explains why the theory blaming sugar as a cancer causing and perpetrating agent is flawed and not true as in that scenario cutting out sugar completely from a person diet would not only guarantee cancer prevention but a slower growth or a disease halt in existing patients.
"Although there's no evidence that cutting carbohydrates from our diet will help treat cancer, important research has shown that understanding the abnormal ways that cancer cells make energy could lead to new treatments." notes a report on Scienceblog.
If cutting back on sugar doesn't really help treat cancer, and if sugar is not to blame for causing cancer, then why ask people to go easy with sugar in their regular diet? This is because enough research point at the correlation between excessive sugar consumption, obesity and close to 13 different types of cancers. "Eating lots of sugar over time can cause you to gain weight, and robust scientific evidence shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer," ranging from breast, womb, bowel, kidney, pancreas, esophagus among others, as mentioned on Scienceblog.
Succinctly put, while consuming less sugar cannot completely protect one from falling prey to cancer, it can certainly cut the risk significantly and avoid falling other lifestyle, non-communicable disease.
"As of now there is no link between sugar intake and cancer, or for that matter between blood sugar levels and cancer. This is why people with diabetes have the same risk of cancer as those without diabetes. In addition, human metabolism ensures that even protein and fat can be converted to sugar. However, we recommend against excessive sugar intake as that can promote obesity which in turn leads to higher chances of getting some cancers or getting a cancer relapse," shared Dr. Devavrat Arya, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Max Superciality Hospital, Saket, Delhi.