Friday, 1 March 2013


When you're diagnosed with cancer, possibly the first and most important thing you can do is to cut refined sugar from your diet. I used to have a sweet tooth. The amount of sugar that I've eliminated from my diet over the past 3 years could fill a house, which is scary when you consider that cancer loves sugar. 

Cancer cells have mutated to survive a toxic, low oxygen environment within the body. As Nobel Prize winning Dr Otto Warburg discovered in 1931, to exist they must respire anaerobically, which requires a process of sugar fermentation. All cells use blood sugar (glucose) for energy, but cancer cells use up to 8 times more sugar, and yield only 5% of a normal cell's energy return. They essentially starve the body of energy for their own respiration. As a by-product they churn out acidic lactic acid, which creates an ever increasingly toxic environment. Interestingly PET scans take advantage of this sugar respiration. Radioactive glucose is injected into the body, cancer cells greedily absorb the sugar and tumours are highlighted.

Many alternative treatments rely on this greed to work. To a cancer cell, high dose vitamin C (given intravenously) resembles sugar. On absorption the vitamin C works as a cytotoxin, instigating apoptosis (cell suicide). This has no ill-effects on surrounding cells which are using oxygen to respire. Baking soda mixed with maple syrup is another well known alternative therapy discovered by Dr Simoncini. The cancer cells take up the sugar, but are destroyed by the alkalinity of the baking soda (remember that cancer cells cannot survive an alkaline environment).

Excess sugar consumption leads to a surplus of glucose within the body. This disrupts the balance of healthy gut flora, and has a direct impact on the immune system. High blood sugar is linked to candida growth, and creates systemic inflammation, the pre-curser to most disease. Furthermore, excess glucose not used for energy production is stored as fat. The body deposits toxins within these fat reserves.

Sugar comes in different forms: fructose, sucrose, glucose, maltose, galactose, and lactose. Read labels and be aware of their presence. Don't be tempted to swap refined sugar for alternatives. Particularly avoid aspartame (a carinogen), high fructose corn syrup (high on the GI index, creating insulin spikes), and xylitol (alcohol derived tree bark sugar). Safer options, in extreme moderation, are stevia, raw honey (watch out for supermarket honey which is often high in refined sugar), maple syrup, coconut sugar, and molasses. In their favour, these sugars contain enzymes and minerals, which processed sugars do not. 

As all carbohydrates are metabolised into glucose for cellular energy it would be impossible to cut sugar from our diet entirely. Simple sugars (ie sucrose) should be avoided because they're absorbed directly through the gut wall, creating high blood sugar levels, requiring the body to produce unnatural insulin spikes. Complex carbohydrates (like legumes, starches, grains and root vegetables) must be broken down into simple carbohydrates via the liver before they can be used for energy. This longer process means that blood sugars and insulin levels remain stable. Tropical fruit, and even root vegetables should be eaten in moderation despite the fact that the natural sugars in these foods result in a slower release of fructose. You can slow the effects of sugar consumption by eating protein at the same time, for example, eating a handful of nuts and seeds with raisins.

Eating a diet rich in sugar gives cancer cells a quick fix whilst giving nothing of value to the body. It's imperative to reduce the foods that these abnormal cells can easily use to grow. So many times I've been welcomed to cancer support groups and fund-raisers with a plate of biscuits or a tray of cakes - hospitals and clinics seem unaware of the sugar-cancer link. In order to heal, we need to inform ourselves and reject sugar in favour of a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and unprocessed foods.

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