Breast cancer is the leading cause of death of women between the ages of 15-34. With early detection, survival rates are high, with 80% – 90% of survivors living for at least five years and more.
This year, approximately 10,000 women under the age of 40 will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer. There are more than 18 sub-types of breast cancer but most commonly, breast cancer develops in cells from the lining of breast milk ducts and the lobules that supply the ducts with milk.
Breast cancer continues to be researched in the hopes of increasing the success of early detection, improvement on effective medical treatment and to better understand how breast cancer can be caused by inheriting faulty (mutated) genes or with mutated cells from exposure to environmental toxins. One of these suspected toxins that have been linked to cancer is sugar. Sugar consumption has tripled over the last 50 years. This excessive amount of consumed dietary sugar is said to have many negative health problems, especially cancer. Could the amount of dietary sugar in our typical western diet increase the risk of developing breast cancer?
According to four different studies of mice that were each fed a different diet, not only did they find that sugar did in fact impact the development of tumors on the mammary gland but it also often metastasized.
“We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet,” said Peiying Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine.
“We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D.
An epidemiological study of breast cancer mortality in relation to food consumption, found there is a strong correlation in older women, between breast cancer mortality and sugar consumption. According to this study, the possible link between sugar consumption and breast cancer is insulin. Our bodies supply insulin production in response to our blood glucose level. When this regulatory mechanism is overloaded by large dietary sugar intake, the levels can become excessive. This imbalance may explain the increased risk of mammary cancer in diabetics.
The cells in our bodies need glucose for energy. When healthy cells complete their life cycle, they die off and are replaced with healthy cells. Cancer is developed when old cells continue to grow and divide in one place, creating a tumor.
In 1924, a publication of Dr. Otto Warburg’s paper, “On metabolism of tumors.” said, “Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.” Dr. Otto Warburg’s was a Nobel Prize winning cell biologist. Dr. Warburg hypothesized, cancer growth was stimulated when the dying cells converted glucose into energy without the use of oxygen. Healthy cells make energy by converting oxygen and pyruvate (carbohydrate catabolism). Dr. Otto Warburg’s was a Nobel Prize winning cell biologist who proved cancer cells cannot live in an oxygenated, alkaline environment but thrives among an oxygen depleted and a pH of an acidic level. Some foods such as sugar, leave an acid residue (acidosis) in the blood and tissue of the body altering the bodies normal pH level.
Scientists have studied this effect in laboratory research at Duke University, cancer cells appear to use a combination of sugar and proteins to grow when they are being signaled to die off. The cancer cells use sugar at a high rate, appearing to ignore cellular prompting to die off. At Johns Hopkins University, researchers studied abnormal glycosylation – how cancer cells utilize sugar and proteins to sustain growth. When these cells were given n-butyrate (a salt) with carbohydrates (contains sugar), cell development slowed down. The researchers produced a hybrid molecule made of a simple sugar and n-butyrate. Because the cancer cells absorb sugar as a means of survival, they soaked up the hybrid created molecule, and it in fact interfered with their ability to continue growing, and they died.