A startling number of products could put you at risk, but there are a large number of preventative measures that are easy to take.
It is always important to watch what you eat, but one ingredient is particularly difficult to avoid if you live in the United States. Sugar is added to virtually any processed food product imaginable, and it can take up a serious amount of time reading nutrition labels trying to avoid the stuff.
As we reported earlier, a recent study published by scientists from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center linked fructose in table sugar, as well as high-fructose corn syrup, to the growth and development of breast tumors.
The recent study found that up to 58 percent of mice given a diet heavy in sugar had developed mammary tumors, while only 30 percent of mice given a normal diet had tumors at the same age. The mice given sugar were also more likely to have lung metastases than the mice who received a normal diet.
While demonstrating a pattern with mice doesn’t prove a solid connection between sugar and cancer, a surprising number of studies have suggested the same link. A literature review from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute examined the links between fructose, the most commonly added sugar in American food products, and various types of cancers. It found that diets high in sugar were more likely to lead to prostate, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
Most studies examining the link between sugar and cancer have focused on a food’s glycemic load and glycemic index, which measure how fast certain carbohydrates elevate blood sugar and insulin. A lower glycemic load is preferred by most doctors, as it has a lower effect on blood sugar and insulin response.
Foods with a lower glycemic load, like whole grains and starchy vegetables, have also been shown to have more vitamins, minerals and fibers than high GL foods. These foods are broken down and absorbed into be bloodstream at a slower pace, which reduces the likelihood of a dramatic spike in blood sugar.
Doctors recommend keeping a well-rounded diet and avoiding foods with a high glycemic index, like cookies, cakes, candy, crackers, pastas, and white breads. Beverages with sugar added, like soda, fruit juices, and syrupy coffee drinks should be avoided as well.
Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, starchy vegetables and brown rice can reduce the risks of encouraging tumor growth. Doctors stress the importance of omitting sugar where you may not have realized it was hiding, and the best way to do this is to focus on a diet that is naturally low in sugar.
A press release from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center describing the recent study can be found here.