Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Please Don’t Feed the Cancer

[Earlier posts in this cancer prevention series:  Cancer for a Fortnight, Before Early DetectionIn the Beginning:  The Cancer-Inflammation Connection, Only YOU Can Prevent Inflammation, Supply Lines:  The Importance of Angiogenesis, and Short-Circuit:  Inhibiting Angiogenesis Naturally.  See also Crap for the Cure.]

I’ve arrived at a point in this series where I can no longer refer tangentially to the elephant in the room:  SUGAR.

Medical experts have known for decades that glucose — aka sugar — is cancer’s favorite food.  Cancer cells require as much as five times more glucose for fuel than do normal cells.

In fact, the very PET scans used by oncologists to observe the shape and size of tumors depend on cancer’s appetite for sugar.  Patients to be PET scanned are dosed with a glucose-heavy substance combined with a radioactive tracer.  Their glucose-hungry tumors attract a disproportionate quantity of the substance, which results in a concentrated mass of radiotracer, which is viewable on a computer monitor.

Nevertheless, the baffling fact is that few oncologists inform their patients that regular old dietary sugar will behave just like that radiotraced glucose.  They even go so far as to recommend pudding and ice cream to patients wracked with nausea from chemotherapy, “because they need to keep their weight up!”  Right.  They do.  But at the cost of shoveling spoonfuls of cancer fuel down the hatch?

Furthermore, researchers at Ohio State University are touting an experimental drug that fights cancer by choking off its sugar supply.  Pardon me, but do we really need drugs for this?  We already know that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective in starving cancer cells.

Remember, too, that carbohydrate consumption causes your pancreas to secrete insulin.  Insulin makes cancer cells happy because it enables them to mop up more glucose.  In fact, cancer cells like insulin so much that they actually produce some of their own insulin.  They also have about ten times as many insulin receptors as normal cells.  This is how cancer fuels its own, rapid growth — unless, of course, you restrict the availability of said glucose by changing your diet.

Furthermore, insulin is a storage hormone.  That is, it directs your body to store excess dietary carbohydrate as bodyfat…and excess bodyfat is a well-known risk factor for many cancers.

Let’s work the logic in reverse:  We want to reduce cancer risk by reducing bodyfat.  Bodyfat is the result of storage induced by insulin.  Insulin secretion is the result of carbohydrate consumption.  Therefore, by reducing carbohydrate consumption, we can reduce bodyfat.  In the process, we deprive cancer cells — known or undetected — of their primary fuel source.  We kill it.  Capice?

 I learned about the cancer-sugar connection years ago, from Dr. Patrick Quillin’s book Beating Cancer with Nutrition.  I was mostly vegan at the time, and had already cut the obvious sugars out of my diet.  I thought I was ahead of the game.  I was wrong. 

It wasn’t until three years later that I realized that, as far as my body is concerned, all carbohydrate is sugar.  Yes, even those fruits, vegetables, beans, and “healthy whole grains.”  Let me repeat:  All dietary carbohydrate is sugar.  Sugar is cancer’s favorite food.  If A=B and B=C…  You get the point.

That said, I am not advocating a diet that excludes vegetables.  Most vegetables are quite low in carbohydrate.  You can eat loads of them and easily stay under 50 grams of carbohydrate per day.  Furthermore, veggies offer a fantastic micronutrient tradeoff for their macronutrient impact.  Fruits, not so much.  Grains and legumes, not at all.  Stick with vegetables.

One more thing:  I am constantly amazed by the number of people who restrict their own carbohydrate consumption because they understand the myriad health benefits of doing so, yet continue to feed their children oatmeal, cookies, and Laffy Taffy because “they’re young and healthy, and they don’t struggle with their weight.”

Umm…yeah.  They’re young and healthy now — but how long is that going to last if we train their bodies and minds to depend on sugar for energy and satisfaction? 

This isn’t hard, folks.  Don’t feed cancer.  Don’t feed your children to it, either.

The next post in this series will explore additional hormone-cancer connections, and what you can do to manipulate them in you favor.


My Medicine, My Food:  black coffee, Asian salad with pulled pork (raw spinach, carrot, and mushroom; garlic pulled pork; and the dressing from this recipe), salmon croquettes (fried in pastured butter) with steamed carrots, broccoli, and brussels sprouts with southwest-style dressing, lamb chops, sweet potato roasted with coconut oil and red pepper, and sautéed kale.

Workout:  5x rotation of one-legged barbell squats, military presses, pullups, and bent-over barbell rows.


8 responses

  1. Thanks. I needed to hear it straight up! I’ve been struggling with my kids. This morning while I was putting peanut butter on their toast I was thinking to myself that I really need to stop…to jump that hurdle. They honestly don’t get all that much junk by anyone’s standards, but they still hang on to that toast in the morning and I haven’t had the energy to tackle it yet. I did, however change them from whole wheat and Skippy to bread made from sprouted grains and natural, no sugar added peanut butter. That’s as far as I’ve been able to get. But I think I’m ready for the next step and your post may be the nudge I needed. Thanks!

    December 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    • Go Annie! I’m sure it won’t be easy, but they’ll recover and be all the healthier for the experience. But of course, you already know that. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

      December 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm

  2. Matt

    Barbeygirl, what are your thoughts on the role of Vitamin D3 on cancer?

    December 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    • Hi Matt. Ah, that’s a topic I haven’t addressed in this series yet, but it’s absolutely on my radar. We know that D3 is almost always low in breast cancer victims, that low D3 levels are associated with skin cancer risk, etc. I’ll go into some detail on a future post, but the short answer is that I do believe D3 deficiency is related to cancer incidence — and I sun and supplement because of it!

      December 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm

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