In the last two posts you learned why sugar highs are bad for you.
They cause elevated levels of insulin and IGF (insulin growth factor) in the bloodstream. Cancer cells are stimulated to divide by increased levels of IGF and their growth is fed by high levels of glucose.
But it gets worse! Cancer cells are given another big advantage.
Insulin removes glucose from the bloodstream by a variety of means: It delivers some to cells to be used for energy; some it converts to a glucose like substance (glycogen) to be stored in the liver, muscles, and other tissues as a quick energy reserve; and the rest it converts to fat.
Insulin’s job is to get glucose out of the bloodstream.
Refined sugar causes a rush of glucose into the bloodstream and blood sugar levels rise rapidly. The pancreas responds and secretes insulin and IGF into the bloodstream to counteract this surge of extra glucose.
Over time, as blood sugar levels are repeatedly elevated, the insulin receptor sites become resistant to the effects of insulin. Sensitive receptor sites become desensitized and become less and less effective. It becomes hard for insulin to usher glucose into the cell. This is known as insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance develops gradually. Insulin’s ability to lock onto receptor sites becomes sporadic. When a cell becomes insulin resistant, it decreases its receptors’ activity. This can be compared to someone, disturbed by loud music, who turns down the volume. In response, the pancreas keeps turning it up.
When insulin is turned away from a receptor site due to insulin resistance, it will continue to hunt for a home – a receptor site that will accept it.
Not all cells in the body become insulin resistant at the same time. The liver becomes resistant first, then the muscle tissue, and so on. It takes longer for fat cells to become insulin resistant. As people become more and more insulin resistant, they gain more and more weight. Insulin resistance causes obesity.
Cancer cells tend to retain their receptor site sensitivity and their ability to accept insulin.
Thus, insulin resistance gives cancer cells a big advantage. It’s as if your cancer cells have been placed at the front of the line to be fed. For this reason, malignant tumors get proportionally much more glucose than other cells. This accelerates their growth.
Once insulin locks onto the insulin receptor site of a cancer cell, not only does the cancer receive fuel for growth but also it is stimulated to divide.
In summary, a diet of refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is dangerous. It leads to insulin resistance, which accelerates the growth of malignant tumors.
Craig G Thompson, M.D., president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and leading cancer researcher, believes that many pre-cancer cells turn into malignant tumors because of the signals provided by the high levels of insulin and insulin growth factor that are caused by insulin resistance.
Gary Taubes interviewed both Lewis Cantley, PhD, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, and CraigThompson for an article published by the New York Times. In the article Taubes states: “Some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fat is causing insulin resistance, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer – some cancers, at least. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.”
“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risks of cancer,” Thompson told Taubes.
Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”
Sugar scares me too! What about you?