~ 082710 Cancer's Favorite Food - Found in Everything You Eat?
Posted By Dr. Mercola
Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, according to a study that challenges the notion that all sugars are the same.
Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways. This could explain why other studies have previously linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.
According to MSNBC:
"Americans take in large amounts of fructose, mainly in high fructose corn syrup, a mix of fructose and glucose that is used in soft drinks, bread and a range of other foods. Politicians, regulators, health experts and the industry have debated whether high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients have been helping make Americans fatter and less healthy."
MSNBC August 2, 2010
Cancer Research August 1, 2010; 70: 6368
Reuters August 2, 2010
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Are all sugars equal in terms of the health effects they produce?
Sooner or later, science will put this debate to rest once and for all. It's already been conclusively shown that fructose, most commonly consumed in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is FAR more hazardous to your health than regular sugar, but the corn industry still vehemently denies such claims.
Through successful PR campaigns, industry has managed to pull the wool over your eyes for some time now, but eventually even they will have to surrender to the scientific evidence...
Until then, propaganda machines like the Corn Refiners Association's site, SweetSurprise.com, will continue telling you that "research confirms that high fructose corn syrup is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like table sugar and honey. All three sweeteners are nutritionally the same," and that "though the individual sugars are metabolized by different pathways, this is of little consequence since the body sees the same mix of sugars from caloric sweeteners, regardless of source."
But are these metabolic differences of little consequence?
Far from it!
Fructose Speeds Up Cancer Growth
Research just published in the journal Cancer Research shows that the way the different sugars are metabolized (using different metabolic pathways) is of MAJOR consequence when it comes to feeding cancer and making it proliferate.
According to the authors:
" Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different... These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation."
In this case, the cancer cells used were pancreatic cancer, which is typically regarded as the most deadly and universally rapid-killing form of cancer.
The study confirms the old adage that sugar feeds cancer because they found that tumor cells do thrive on sugar (glucose). However, the cells used fructose for cell division, speeding up the growth and spread of the cancer.
If this difference isn't of major consequence, then I don't know what is.
Whether you're simply interested in preventing cancer, or have cancer and want to live longer, you ignore these facts and listen to industry propaganda at your own risk.
How Does Sugar Feed Cancer?
Controlling your blood-glucose and insulin levels through diet, exercise and emotional stress relief can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer recovery program. These factors are also crucial in order to prevent cancer in the first place.
It may surprise you, but the theory that sugar feeds cancer was born nearly 80 years ago. Even more shocking, most conventional cancer programs STILL do not adequately address diet and the need to avoid sugars.
In 1931 the Nobel Prize was awarded to German researcher Dr. Otto Warburg, who first discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells.
Malignant tumors tend to use a process where glucose is used as a fuel by the cancer cells, creating lactic acid as a byproduct.[i] The large amount of lactic acid produced by this fermentation of glucose from cancer cells is then transported to your liver. This conversion of glucose to lactic acid generates a lower, more acidic pH in cancerous tissues as well as overall physical fatigue from lactic acid buildup.[ii] [iii]
This is a very inefficient pathway for energy metabolism, which extracts only about 5 percent of the available energy in your food supply. In simplistic terms, the cancer is "wasting" energy, which leads you to become both tired and undernourished, and as the vicious cycle continues, will lead to the body wasting so many cancer patients experience.
Additionally, carbohydrates from glucose and sucrose significantly decreases the capacity of neutrophils to do their job. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that help cells to envelop and destroy invaders, such as cancer.
In a nutshell, ALL forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer, but in slightly different ways, and to a different extent. Fructose, however, clearly seems to be one of the overall most harmful.
Connecting the Dots: Fructose—Uric Acid--Cancer and Chronic Disease Risk
One particularly interesting tidbit I noticed in this latest study is the mention of how fructose metabolism leads to increased uric acid production along with cancer cell proliferation.
In my first interview with Dr. Johnson, he explained just how detrimental the impact of fructose is on your uric acid level. Interestingly, ONLY fructose, NOT glucose, drives up uric acid as part of its normal metabolic pathways
And, the connection between fructose, uric acid, hypertension, insulin resistance/diabetes and kidney disease is so clear that your uric acid level can actually be used as a marker for toxicity from fructose -- meaning that if your levels are high, you're at increased risk of all the health hazards associated with fructose consumption and you really need to reduce your fructose intake.
Dr. Richard Johnson has written one of the best books on the market on the health dangers of fructose, called The Sugar Fix, which explains how fructose causes high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and kidney disease. As I've mentioned previously, he does promote the use of artificial sweeteners in this book, which I cannot recommend. His research on fructose, however, is unsurpassed in my opinion.
Now it's safe to say that cancer, at least pancreatic cancer, is also definitely on the list of diseases that are directly linked to excessive fructose consumption.
So are Fruits Good or Bad for You?
This recommendation has created much controversy among many who regularly consume fruit and believe this recommendation does not apply to them.
Many who eat large amounts of fruit have no symptoms, just as those with high blood pressure may not have any symptoms. However lack of symptoms is no assurance you are not exposing yourself to some danger.
Please remember that over three-quarters of the population has insulin resistance.
How do you know if you have insulin resistance? If you have any of the following conditions it is a safe bet you have it:
- High blood pressure
- High Cholesterol
If you have insulin resistance it would be strongly recommended to limit your total grams of fructose from fruit to below 15 grams per day (see the table below). If you believe you are very healthy and are an exception to this recommendation, then you can easily confirm if this is true for you by measuring your uric acid level.
If your uric acid level is greater than 5.5 than you have a risk factor and should limit your fructose consumption. The higher over 5.5, the stronger the risk factor is.
Keep in mind that fruits also contain fructose, although an ameliorating factor is that whole fruits also contain vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of fructose.
Juices, on the other hand, are nearly as detrimental as soda, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost.
It is important to remember that fructose alone isn't evil as fruits are certainly beneficial. But when you consume high levels of fructose it will absolutely devastate your biochemistry and physiology. Remember the AVERAGE fructose dose is 70 grams per day which exceeds the recommend limit by 300 percent.
So please BE CAREFUL with your fruit consumption. You simply MUST understand that because HFCS is so darn cheap, it is added to virtually every processed food. So even if you consumed no soda or fruit, it is very easy to exceed 25 grams of hidden fructose in your diet if you are consuming anything processed.
If you are a raw food advocate, have a pristine diet, and exercise regularly, then you could be the exception that could exceed this limit and stay healthy. But in my experience that is certainly the exception and not the norm.
So please, carefully add up your fruits based on the table below to keep the total fructose from fruit below 15 grams per day.
||Grams of Fructose |
||1 cup ||0.7
|Apricot ||1 medium
|Date (Deglet Noor style)
||1/8 of med. melon
||1 cup ||3.0
|Blackberries ||1 cup
||1 cup ||4.0
(3.5" x .75")
|Grapefruit, pink or red
Restricting Fructose Consumption is Crucial Part of a Comprehensive Cancer Treatment Plan
Reducing (or preferably eliminating) fructose and other added sugars, as well as limiting grain carbohydrates from your diet, is usually a primary priority on my list of cancer reducing strategies, and for good reason.
This dietary strategy should also be part of your comprehensive cancer treatment plan.
By severely reducing your intake of fructose and carbs in your diet, you help stave off any potential cancer growth, and "starve" any tumors you currently have.
It also bolsters your overall immune function, because sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately.
Unfortunately, few cancer patients undergoing conventional cancer care in the US are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to "just eat healthy foods." I believe many cancer patients would see major improvement in their outcome if they controlled the supply of cancer's preferred fuel, glucose, and stayed clear of fructose to significantly reduce tumor proliferation.
Starving Cancer – Another Up-and-Coming Strategy
Before I go into further cancer prevention strategies, I'd like to remind you of another recent cancer research development I recently wrote about, namely 'starving' cancer by eating foods that prevent angiogenesis.
Angiogenesis (too many blood vessels) is a hallmark of cancer as the tumor actually needs blood in order to grow (this is how it feeds on the glucose in your bloodstream). But angiogenesis appears to be preventable by consuming foods that are natural inhibitors of excessive blood vessel growth.
When you regularly consume these foods, you can effectively starve any microscopic cancerous growths, effectively preventing them from growing further and becoming dangerous.
According to Dr. Li, who is currently leading this research, resveratrol from red grapes, for example, have been shown to inhibit abnormal angiogenesis by 60 percent. Even more potent is the ellagic acid found in strawberries.
Other potent anti-angiogenetic foods include:
||Berries: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries
|Citrus: oranges, grapefruit, lemons
Logically, different foods contain different potencies of anti-angiogenetic compounds. Some foods have even been found to be more potent than current anti-angiogenetic drugs! These include parsley and garlic.
But interestingly, when researchers evaluated a combination of two of the LEAST potent teas, for example, they discovered that this combination tea had greater potency than any given tea by itself.
"There's synergy," Li states, which should come as no surprise to those of you who are well-versed in holistic nutrition.
It is this synergy that makes fresh, whole foods so potently nutritious!
The sum is far greater than the individual parts, and this is why it's far more important to focus on eating a diet of whole, organic foods, rather than obsessing about individual nutrients.
Other Cancer Prevention Strategies
Aside from avoiding fructose and other added sugars (which means cutting out not only soda and sugary beverages, but also processed foods since most are loaded with HFCS), and incorporating more anti-angiogenetic fare into your diet, here are several additional strategies you can incorporate to virtually eliminate your cancer risk:
- Normalize your vitamin D levels with safe amounts of sun exposure. This is one of the most effective, and least expensive, cancer prevention strategies available to most people. Ideally, you'll want to monitor your vitamin D levels to make sure your levels stay within a therapeutic range year-round.
- Get appropriate amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats.
- Exercise. One of the primary reasons exercise works is that it drives your insulin levels down. Controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
- Have a tool to permanently erase the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is caused by emotions. It is likely that this factor may be more important than all the other physical ones listed here, so make sure this is addressed. My particular favorite tool for this purpose, as you may know, is the Emotional Freedom Technique.
- Only 25 percent of people eat enough vegetables, so by all means eat as many vegetables as you are comfortable with, preferably fresh and organic. Ideally, you'll also want to determine your nutritional type, as some veggies are better than others, depending on your type. In addition, if you are a carb nutritional type, for example, you may need up to 300 percent more vegetables than a protein nutritional type.
- Maintain an ideal body weight.
- Get enough high-quality sleep.
- Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and air pollution.
- Boil, poach or steam your foods, rather than frying or charbroiling them.
[i] Warburg O. On the origin of cancer cells. Science 1956 Feb;123:309-14.
[ii] Volk T, et al. pH in human tumor xenografts: effect of intravenous administration of glucose. Br J Cancer 1993 Sep;68(3):492-500
[iii] Digirolamo M. Diet and cancer: markers, prevention and treatment. New York: Plenum Press; 1994. p 203
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