Study Finds Sugar Feeds Cancer: How Unhealthy Eating Increases Your Risk

Can eating too much sugar increase your disease risk? Your chance of developing cancer and other health conditions increases the more you rely on sugar for fuel. If most of your calories come from processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages, you’re putting yourself in danger. Let’s take a closer look at how sugar destroys our bodies and what you can do to fight back (page 7).

Your body doesn’t know what to do with added sugars

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks

Your body may have no idea what you’re putting into it. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Carbohydrates, which are natural sugars, serve as an important energy source to keep you fully functional. Added sugars, which provide a lot of energy without contributing any other nutrients, can become harmful in excess amounts.

Your brain, heart, and even your cells just don’t know where to put the sugar they don’t actually need. Often, it ends up in our fat cells, because that’s where extra energy gets stored when you don’t need it.

Next: Sugar in this type of food is all about appeal, not nutrition.

You’ll only find this kind of sugar in processed food

candy gummy worms

There’s a reason gummy worms never go bad. | jenifoto/iStock/Getty Images

Is eating too much fruit bad for you? Probably. But the kinds of sugars you get from fruit, for example, aren’t the same sugars you get from potato chips, candy, and other processed foods.

The reason added sugars exist in these foods has everything to do with the appeal. If sugar can improve the look, taste, or shelf life of a food, manufacturers won’t hesitate to add it in.

Next: Sugar hurts this vital organ.

Sugar actually hurts your heart

young african american businesswoman having heart attack or chest pain

Avoiding added sugars can help you beat heart disease. | iStock.com/michaeljung

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among U.S. adults, and our diets have a lot to do with it. JAMA Internal Medicine found a significant relationship between increased added sugar consumption and the risk of dying from heart disease.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only chronic disease that can develop as a result of poor dietary choices.

Next: Sugar could be one of the easiest ways to increase your chance of this disease.

Does eating too much sugar really give you diabetes?

man is measuring the level of glucose through his finger

Excess sugar can affect your insulin resistance. | iStock.com/BernardaSv

Of all the habits that increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, eating too much added sugar could be one of the easiest to modify. Excess sugar intake can affect your insulin resistance, which controls how well your cells respond to the hormone in charge of regulating your blood sugar.

It takes a combination of eating the right foods, following the right fitness routine, and choosing the right beverages to help prevent a number of diseases. Preventing cancer is probably the trickiest of them all.

Next: Does sugar feed cancer cells?

Does sugar feed cancer cells?

Doctor talking to a patient

Turns out, studies have found that sugar stimulates cancer growth. | iStock.com/Minerva Studio

Cancer is hard to prevent. And once you have it, it’s even harder to beat. New research gives some hope to those undergoing treatment to get rid of cancerous tumors and prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of their body. According to the study, a diet high in sugar could actually stimulate tumor growth. A specifically modified diet could help patients avoid developing aggressive, difficult-to-treat tumors.

Is it possible to use sugar — or lack thereof — to prevent cancer? Maybe. Overall, an unhealthy diet makes you sick and creates the optimal environment for cancer cells to grow. Diet just happens to be one of those cancer risk factors you have full control over. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all risk factors.

Next: What else increases your cancer risk?

What else increases your cancer risk?

Young depressed cancer patient standing in front of hospital window.

There are certain factors you have control over. | iStock.com/prudkov

Eating junk food is just one of many habits that increases your disease risk. The National Cancer Institute offers a long, but by no means complete, list of factors that could contribute to your cancer risk — both within your control and far outside of it.

Aside from a poor diet, chronic inflammation, alcohol use, hormones, and age can all have a negative impact on your cancer risk.

Next: Here’s what you can do to fight back.

How to stop eating so much sugar

Cut fruit in containers on display

Fresh fruit can be subbed in for sweets. | iStock.com/littleny

Curbing sugar cravings can help you decrease your risk of cancer and other devastating chronic health conditions. Eating regular, nutritionally balanced meals and snacks is one of the most effective defenses against your sweet tooth.

Skipping meals, using artificial sweeteners, and eating junk food can enhance your unhealthy appetite. Snacking on nuts, fruit, and dairy when you’re hungry for sugar can help you stay away from the sweet stuff.

Next: One more simple thing to fight back.

Check the labels

Child hold a spoon with yoghurt and blackberry

Check the sugar content before you dig in. | iStock.com/Povareshka

At the very least, make sure to check the labels of your favorite sweets. You’d be surprised how the smallest changes can save you grams of sugar here and there. Even regular items such as yogurt have large differences in sugar amounts when you compare flavors and brands.

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