High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, is often described as an excess of sugar—or glucose—in the blood. Many researchers believe sugar can literally feed the growth of cancer cells. Although no definitive connection between the two has been established yet, the following information highlights the growing body of evidence supporting a link between them.
Sugar & Carbohydrates
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that’s broken down inside the intestine and absorbed into the blood. This increases blood sugar levels, triggering a response from the pancreas that releases insulin. Sugar feeds all the cells in the body, including cancer cells.
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High Insulin Levels
Research has shown there’s a direct correlation between higher insulin levels and an increase in cancer cells. Cancer cells have insulin receptors whose job it is to promote growth. Elevated glucose levels create insulin resistance, which causes the body to make more to counter the spike in blood sugar.
Diet & Processed Foods
The body uses sugar to keep its vital organs functioning normally, but the key is balance. To keep cancer at bay, the American Heart Association recommends women have no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day, and men should have no more than nine. Many processed foods contain a large amount of sugar. Avoiding processed meats, soda, and refined sugars can keep blood sugar levels from spiking. There’s much to be learned about what causes cancer, but one thing is for sure—avoiding excess sugar is a healthy choice.
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The glycemic index measures the effects of certain carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. It’s a way to distinguish between good and bad carbs and keep blood sugar levels steady. The glycemic index puts a number on how fast the body converts carbs into glucose. Using this tool when grocery shopping or preparing meals is one way people can maintain healthier blood sugar levels.