This Sweetener Feeds Cancer Cells

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It appears that all sugars are not the same — not at all! A recent study has found that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and spread. A research team from the University of California discovered that tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways — in the case of fructose, in a very destructive way.

Their findings may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types. The research team notes that the results from this latest study will have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose. They feel that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake may disrupt cancer growth.

North Americans take in large amounts of fructose, mainly in the form of high fructose corn syrup. This is a mixture of fructose and glucose commonly found in soft drinks, bread, and a range of other foods.

Politicians, regulators, health experts and the food industry have long been at odds on whether high fructose corn syrup has been helping make Americans fatter and less healthy. Too much sugar of any kind, of course, not only adds pounds, but is also a key culprit in diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Some states have actually declared war on high fructose corn syrup by applying a tax to sweetened soft drinks. This is meant to help cover the costs of treating obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The big beverage companies are not happy about this. They have strongly, and often successfully, opposed efforts to tax soft drinks. The industry has argued that sugar is sugar, whatever its form — of course, this recent study has found otherwise. Not only do tumor cells thrive on sugar, but they also use fructose to multiply.

A small amount of fructose, such as the amount found in most vegetables and fruits, is not really a bad thing. In fact, there’s some evidence that a little bit may help your body process glucose properly. However, when you consume too much fructose at once, it seems to overwhelm your body’s capacity to process it. Our diets used to contain only very small amounts of fructose. These days, it is estimated that about 10% of the modern diet comes from fructose.

Remember that there are many alternatives that you can reach for when you need to indulge your sweet tooth. Honey has many beneficial ingredients, as well as being deliciously sweet. It is a great natural source of carbohydrates which can boost energy. Honey has also been found to keep levels of blood sugar fairly constant compared to other types of sugar. You can also try blackstrap molasses, which is an excellent vegetarian source of iron.

But what about when it comes to prepared foods and drinks? How do you avoid high-fructose corn syrup in all of your favorite foods? Look for those that contain cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup — you may have to pay a little more, but your body won’t be eating or drinking foods that could be feeding cancer cells.