Want to improve your health? Change your diet! This message is slowly permeating mainstream society, but has yet to convince fast-food lovers and sugary-treat fanatics. Largely unaware of food consequences, many still dive into high-fat, high-sugar food options without a second thought; but a recent study affirming that Cancer cells grow and thrive on processed sugar may change that.
Nature Medicine recently confirmed that processed sugar is one of the primary driving forces behind the growth and spread of cancer tumors. The results were so conclusive, in fact, that future cancer screening may rely on scanning the body for accumulated sugar for signs of the disease.
The University College London (UCL) in the U.K. made this discovery after experimenting with a new cancer detection method that involves utilizing a unique form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The scientists sensitized a MRI scanner to look specifically for glucose in the body, and it revealed that cancer tumors – which have been shown to feed off sugar – light up brightly as they contain high amounts of sugar.
Explained by a recent UCL announcement, “The new technique, called ‘glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer’ (glucoCEST), is based on the fact that tumors consume much more glucose (a type of sugar) than normal, healthy tissues in order to sustain their growth.” On the update given by the university, it was noted that tumors appear as “bright images” on the scanner.
When traditionally scanning for cancer, the use of low-dose radiation injections are used to identify the presence of tumors. This makes sense, as radiation is another known cause of cancer, but such an injection is not optimal due to its potential side effects. However, this method works because the things that trigger and promote cancer to develop and spread can also be used by doctors to detect it inside the body. And sugar can now officially be added to that list.
“The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material,” says Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, lead researcher of the study from the UCL Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI).
What may be most shocking, as reported by the study’s senior author, is that the amount of sugar in “half a standard sized chocolate bar” is all it takes to effectively identify the presence of tumors using the glucoCEST method. This finding is astounding, as it suggests that even relatively low amounts of sugar have the potential to promote cancer proliferation.
UCL is not the first source to connect processed sugar with diseases like cancer. Dr. Robert H. Lustig, M.D. and Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Franciasco (UCSF), cites that the bulk of chronic illnesses prevalent today are caused by sugar consumption. Lustig is a famed author of “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, and speaks openly in videos to describe his findings.
The main culprits of deadening sugar include: white sugar and flour, sweetened and processed foods, and fast food. The way these break down in the body (compared to natural sources of fructose from fruit), is that they cause an increase of hormones to be released (specifically insulin), and in effect, signal for cancer cells to feed and continue to grow in size.
Dr. Lewis Cantley, head of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) at Harvard University, shared during a CBS interview the sugar-cancer connection: “What we’re beginning to learn is that insulin can cause adverse effects in various tissues, and a particular concern is cancer.”
He continued, “If you happen to have a tumor that has insulin receptors on it, then it will get stimulated to take up the glucose that’s in the bloodstream. So rather than going to the fat or to the muscle, the glucose now goes into the tumor, and the tumor uses it to grow.”
These sources conclude and relay the importance of choosing wholesome, unprocessed, and predominantly plant-based foods to keep the body healthy, and the mind nourished. Start by adding more greens, vegetables and plant-based proteins, while decreasing the amount of processed foods you consume. The body truly is capable of healing itself, and the necessity to make such changes for it to happen is becoming increasingly evident.