Updated: Jul 19, 2021
"Does sugar feed cancer cells?" -- This is the common question asked by a lot of cancer patients. The answer is, “Yes, but it’s complicated.”
There’s a lot of confusing information and advice out there around sugar.
⚠️ Does it cause cancer? ⚠️ Does sugar feed cancer cells, making them grow more aggressively? ⚠️ How does the sugar we consume through food and drink affect our health? ⚠️ What can be done about this?
Every cell in our body uses sugar (glucose) as the main source of energy. In fact, glucose is virtually the sole fuel for our brain. Even when we are not eating sugar, our body will convert fats and proteins into glucose for energy.
1️⃣ Cancer cells have much more glucose receptors and can absorb glucose much faster than our healthy cells.
2️⃣ Not all sugars are the same.
Refined/processed sugars (think soda or sweetened beverages) are like drinking through a fire hose--that causes a lot of stress in our gut and leads to low grade inflammation in our body.
Cancer cells are very happy to have abundance of cheap fuel circulating in the blood, and will waste no time to absorb and store the excessive glucose.
This is how PET scan works -- they give you radioactive sugar which lights up on the imaging which the cancer cells are actively growing.
Conversely, natural sugars from fruits, vegetables and whole grain are digested much slower due to the fiber, causing less stress and inflammation, and delivering an array of cancer-fighting nutrients in the process.
Many cancer patients like to do juicing from fruits and vegetables as a way to get their nutrients, but this can also lead to too much sugar in the body if not done properly.
The bottomline is if you juice, stick to mostly low GI green leafy vegetables and a little of fruits as flavor. And keep eating fruits and vegetables in their whole state alongside the juice for the most benefit.
So while sugar feeds cancer cells is technically true, it's an over simplified statement. Cancer patients should feel comfortable taking in natural sugars through whole fruits and vegetables in moderation.
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