Bitter Truth About Sugar: It Makes Cancer Grow

Posted On Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Bitter Truth About Sugar: It Makes Cancer Grow
Sugar - sweet to your taste buds but perhaps toxic to your body and your proteins. Just because your taste buds approve, does not mean that the rest of your body will too. Sugar is like your awful ex who was charming at the beginning of the relationship but made your life miserable by the end. Sugar works in the same way - it can easily win your taste buds over, leaving the rest of your body to suffer with the consequences.

Previous studies have shown that a high sugar diet increases the risk of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance, but the damage does not stop there. In fact, sugar does much worse things to your proteins. Two separate studies published in August 2013 suggest that sugar is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, mortality, and lower sexual health.

Sugar and Cancer

A new ground-breaking study that we discussed on YOU The Owner's Manual Radio Show gives us a better understanding of the link between a high-sugar diet and increased risk of cancer. The researchers found that a high sugar diet may enhance the progression of malignant cancer.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the correlation between sugar intake and tumor progression in fruit fly cancer models. The control group was fed 0.15 M of sucrose each day, whereas the high-sugar group was supplemented with 1.0M of sucrose per day. In the study, the researchers paired transgenes to produce tumor clones, labeled GFR, in order to visualize the tumor progression. The clones that were fed a high sugar diet experienced increased proliferation and overgrowth of cancer cells.

All that means is sugar caused the cancer to thrive...and that's bad.

On day nine after egg laying, normal tissue was not only smaller in the flies fed a high sugar diet, they also had 42.8% of their tissue occupied by tumor clones, compared to 13.5% in the control. After the 9th day, the presence of tumors decreased in the control group but rapidly expanded in the sugar group. By the 11th day the total area taken up by tumors in the sugar-fed tissues increased to 58.9% and by day 13, increased again to 93.7%. Nothing else there!

The flies fed a high sugar diet demonstrated increased insulin pathway sensitivity which allowed the cancer cells to thrive off of glucose uptake. This in turn led to enhanced tumor progression. The cells became extremely sensitive to insulin, causing a pattern of activating insulin/P13K signaling. The insulin/p13k signaling led to the prevention of apoptosis, meaning that cancer cells were not only being fueled by glucose but they also did not kill themselves off. This study provides innovative evidence that a similar mechanism may exist within human beings.

Sugar and Sexual Health

Another study published on August 13 found that sugar is not only risky for cancer cells but may also impair your sex life. The study included 156 mice that either ate a sweet diet or a normal diet for 26 weeks. The rodents on the sweet diet consumed 25% of their calories from a glucose/fructose mix that is similar to high fructose corn syrup. The results differed among the male and female mice. The sugar-fed female rodents experienced a twofold increase in mortality compared to the control mice while the sugar-fed males struggled sexually. The males had trouble competing against the control males for female mates and were 25% less likely to reproduce.

How to Cut Back

As the evidence of sugar's toxicity stacks up, decreasing your consumption will help promote a slim waistline, cancer-free cells, and an active sex life. Choose products with less than 4 grams of sugar in entrees and less than 2 grams of sugar in desserts and side dishes. The nutrition fact label does not separate added sugars from naturally occurring sugars so you may also need to look at the ingredient list.

Your goal is toavoidfood products with the following sources of added sugar within the top five ingredients on the list:
  • Organic sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Molasses
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Malt syrup
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Agave nectar
The common saying, "you are what you eat" holds true, but it doesn't cover all the bases. These new research studies point out that you are also what you don't eat. Eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products are all part of the equation.

But without cutting back on added sugar, you are still putting yourself at risk of chronic disease. Avoiding excessive sugar consumption is an important piece to the puzzle that will help improve your overall health and vitality.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Mike Roizen, MD

Questions? Just send 'em to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Michael Roizen, MD

Dr. Mike is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and co-founder of the well-known website, along with Dr. Mehmet Oz. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and health expert on Oprah.

Dr. Mike hosts the popular YOU The Owner's Manual Radio Show here on, and on radio stations nationwide.

You can also visit his latest partnership with Dr. Oz at

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