Sugar & Cancer

Surprise connection or 50-year cover-up?

Evidence suggesting sugar can cause cancer ‘was discovered in a study funded by the sugar industry nearly 50 years ago’ — but never published.
The journal PLOS Biology has revealed internal documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) ‘suggesting knowledge of a possible link between sugar and cancer goes back as far as the 1960s’.

At that time, the ‘debate was all about heart disease. Who is the culprit: sugar or fat?’ A 1967 review article in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded dietary fats were to blame. ‘What wasn’t clear at the time, though, was the authors received funding from the SRF equivalent to roughly US$50,000 in today’s money to publish their review,’ medicalnewstoday. com noted.

However 50 years later, the evidence supporting a link between sugar and cancer is mounting – with sugar-sweetened foods and drinks increasingly scrutinised for their role in ‘promoting cancer development and cancer spread’.

In an editorial in the journal Nutrition, Dr Undurti Das highlighted the fact fructose or sucrose change cell metabolism and raise the activity of cancer-promoting proteins.

In an accompanying article, Dr Ashutosh Kumar and colleagues at India’s National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Hyderabad echo this sentiment.

However Kumar also highlights ‘there are many published reports with con icting results regarding the role of carbohydrates (mainly fructose) and cancer prevalence.’ For instance, several studies have found an increased risk of endometrial cancer in women who consumed high levels of sucrose; yet when it comes to other types of cancer, the data are less clear.

While some studies have linked sugar intake to colon cancer — particularly in men — a 2014 study failed to nd a clear-cut association.

Meanwhile last year, Medical News Today reported a study that showed over half of mice fed a sucrose-rich diet developed breast cancer. However, while a number of population studies ‘concur with this nding, others refute such a link’.

Hence whether and how sugar contributes to the many di erent types of cancer plaguing the human race ‘is not entirely clear at this point’.

Sources: PLOS Biology, Nutrition and Medical News Today