Cut Back On Sugar As Too Much Of This Ingredient Can Elevate The Risk Of Cancer
Diet plays an important in maintaining our health. While eating the right kind of foods can have a good impact on your health, choosing to eat the wrong foods can wreak havoc. Sugar is one such food that should be eaten in moderation. It has been in controversy due to its alleged role in many diseases including cancer. Cancer cells multiply very fast and when they multiply, they obviously require a lot of sugar glucose for their metabolism. So, excess sugar would fuel the growth, and this would lead to cancer. We talked to Dr Mohit Agarwal – Additional Director & Unit Head – Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh about the role of sugar in the development of cancer. Here’s what he has to say.
Does Too Much Sugar Play A Role In Cancer Development?
Dr Mohit Agarwal: Sugar consumption has been linked to weight gain in a growing body of evidence. It may play a role in obesity, which is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. As a result, you’re more likely to develop cancer and other disorders. Researchers at American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, USA don’t think sugar causes cancer and say that the real problem is obesity while on the other, some cancer experts like Lewis Cantley, PhD, director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York believe that sugar can drive cancer.
Though there is no direct correlation between sugar consumption and cancer origination or fueling, however, if one is consuming an excess of sugar, it can lead to two problems–if the patient is diabetic and the sugar levels are not very well controlled, because of the excess consumption the patient’s immunity is suppressed, and whatever disease processes there in the body, it will be difficult to handle it out. Secondly, excess consumption of sugar and lesser physical activity might lead to obesity, which is linked to various sorts of cancers. Eating lots of sugar over time can cause one to gain weight, and scientific evidence shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer. If cancer cells need lots of glucose, then cutting sugar out of the diet must help stop cancer from growing and could even stop it from developing in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
But Sugar Is Not The Only Fuel For Cancer Cells
Dr Agarwal says, “All of our healthy cells require glucose, and there is no way to tell our bodies to provide glucose to healthy cells while denying it to cancer cells.” Further explaining his point, he explicates that sugar is not the only fuel for cancer cells they need other nutrients like amino acids, fats, micronutrients as well. Carbohydrates (sugars) are an important part of a balanced diet and should comprise of naturally occurring carbohydrates (e.g., in fruits, vegetables, grains etc.) instead of man-made ones (e.g., refined & added sugar, soft drinks, bread, snacks etc.) excessive consumption of which breeds various illnesses. Natural sources of carbohydrates/sugars also provide fibres, vitamins, minerals which form an essential part of the diet.
No Evidence That Sugar Directly Causes Cancer
Dr Agarwal elucidates, “Though there is no scientific evidence that sugar directly causes cancer, eating an excess of artificial sugar causes inflammation and ill-health including obesity which increases cancer risk. A balanced diet having the optimum amount of natural carbohydrates is what is recommended for healthy living. Although excluding sugar won’t decrease cancer risk, we can reduce our risk of getting cancer by making healthy choices and lowering the amount of added sugar in our diets is a good way to help maintain healthy body weight.”