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Cancer And Sugar: What’s The Connection?

By Expert HERWriter
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A few weeks ago I diagnosed a patient with breast cancer. Thankfully, it is at a highly treatable stage; however she asked me what she can do to improve her outcomes and her future. I checked her fasting glucose and fasting insulin because, as they say, cancer feeds on sugar. Hers were much higher than they should be however they were not in diabetic range.

When I am looking at blood sugar, I want fasting levels to be under 85mg/dL. The normal blood test says a sugar level (glucose) should be under 99mg/dL, in between 100 and 125 mg/dL is considered impaired fasting glucose and over 126 mg/dL is diabetic.

To many, a fasting level under 85mg/dL sounds crazy however I am dealing with cancer here. Oddly enough, I also want you under 85mg/dL if you are trying to lose weight.

When I look at fasting insulin, I want a fasting level to be under 10 microU per ml however the normal range is between 5-20 microU per ml.

I told this particular patient she needs to avoid all sugar and all simple carbohydrates. I advised her to limit her complex carbohydrates – limit the brown rice, only one piece of whole wheat bread in her sandwich, no pasta, no pretzels, no yogurt, no granola, no chocolate (gasp! I know!), no wine and so forth. I asked her to choose low glycemic foods including vegetables and free-range/hormone-free meat.

She also needed to start weight lifting as muscles burn a lot of sugar without the need of insulin.

Research shows that blood glucose and insulin may have an impact on breast, colorectal, pancreatic, endometrial and prostate cancer. In a normal, healthy cell, it goes through phases of a life cycle where it eventually dies. In cancer, those cells don’t die and use glucose to proliferate and grow. If you are eating mostly vegetables and other low glycemic foods, you reduce the food source for those cancer cells.

If you or someone you know was diagnosed with cancer, please make the necessary dietary changes to eliminate sugar and starve those bad cells!

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EmpowHER Guest

I have recently been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, and your column rang true with me. My numbers are too high and I'm working on lowering them, so I appreciate some of your specifics, including weight training (which I've wanted to try for awhile). When I used to belong to a gym (ages ago!), I saw a lot of people get Gatorade drinks from the vending machine, but I always heard they were high in sugar and salt without most people making that connection. I'm glad I never started drinking them.

November 29, 2010 - 5:05pm

This is interesting; I hadn't heard anything about a connection between cancer and sugar before reading this article, but it all makes intuitive sense.

I do a lot of research on herbal teas. One, called holy basil, or tulsi, has received attention for a broad variety of different health and medicinal uses. It is known to contain antioxidants, and people seem to discuss its cancer-preventing potential in terms of its antioxidant effects. But it is also known to lower blood sugar when it is too high.

Interestingly, there are a number of other herbal teas and plants that have blood-sugar lowering effects. Another is chamomile.

It never occurred to me that perhaps the cancer fighting properties of some of these plants might be due to their effects on blood sugar, but after reading this article, I am going to start thinking about this connection. Maybe there is some research out there on this topic? At any rate, this would provide an even more compelling reason that these herbal teas are useful for people suffering from or at risk of cancer to drink.

Thanks for writing this article; it's rare that I encounter health articles that put forth a genuinely new concept like this.

November 15, 2010 - 12:57pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.