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Can sugar cause cancer?

A recent research ­suggests that excessive intake of sugar leads to cancer. While the link between these two are ­unmistakable, one needs to go beyond simple correlations to understand it fully.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 20, 2014 19:08 IST
Anjali Mukerjee
Anjali Mukerjee
Hindustan Times
sugar

A recent research ­suggests that excessive intake of sugar leads to cancer. While the link between these two are ­unmistakable, one needs to go beyond simple correlations to understand it fully.



Sugar feeds every cell in the body, even cancer cells. Body cells require sugar for normal functioning, but too much of it leads to weight gain. When this gain is combined with lack of ­physical activity, it becomes a risk factor for cancer. According to the American Heart Association, women should have not more than six tsp of sugar per day (25 gm), and men should have not more than nine (37 gm).



The sugar-cancer link


Healthy cells follow a cycle of growth, cell division and ­ultimately cell death. When old cells die, they are replaced by an equal number of healthy ones. Cancer develops when the old cells refuse to die and keep dividing, ­building up in one place and growing — creating a tumour. These cancer cells need a ­regular supply of sugar to live longer.



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Cancer cells use sugar at a higher rate in order to ­survive. It is said that sugar is cancer’s best friend, but it doesn’t mean that you eliminate all the ­carbohydrates.


Table sugar and any simple sugar, like cane sugar, honey, brown sugar, fruit juice, milk and yoghurt break down into glucose quickly and should be restricted.



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Here are some ­simple do's:

*Include 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.


*Include whole grains, instead of refined cereals, as they contain vitamin and minerals.


*Avoid eating processed red meat. Try to include fish and chicken twice a week. Prefer grilling, steaming or boiling food to frying it.


*Stop smoking and reduce your alcohol intake.


*Eat sprouts and drink ­chlorophyll-laden green juices, daily.


*Most cancers such as breast, prostate, pancreatic and ovarian are associated with obesity, so try to achieve an ideal body weight.


*Boost your immune system by doing a good detox ­program which also ­nourishes the body.