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Added Sugars Shorten Lives of Mice

When mice were fed a diet that had 25 percent added sugars, an amount considered safe and consumed by many Americans, the females died at twice the normal rate and the males were less likely to reproduce or hold territory (Nature Communications, published online August 13, 2013). The National Research Council and The United States Institute of Medicine have recommend that added sugar be limited to 25 percent of energy intake, the same percentage tested in this study.

Added sugars are those that do not occur naturally in a food you are eating (such as fruit, vegetables or milk); they are added during the processing or manufacturing of a food product or beverage. The average American takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, equal to 355 calories. Three cans of soda supply more than 400 calories from sugars.

The Research Study

The researchers split 156 mice into two groups: one fed a healthful diet, and one that had 25 percent of their carbohydrate calories replaced with added sugar. Both groups took in the same number of calories. After 26 weeks, the two groups were placed together to live, compete, breed and eat the healthful diet for 32 more weeks. The sugar-fed animals were not more obese.

At the end of the experiment, 35 percent of the female mice fed the high-sugar diet had died, compared to 17 percent of the other group. Males on the sugary diet fathered 25 percent fewer offspring and controlled 26 percent less territory. Female mice prefer to chose mates that control more territory.

Silent Harm from Added Sugars

This experiment tells us that you may not be able to tell that you are harming yourself with added sugars. The mice that died early were not more obese and did not have higher blood sugar, fasting insulin or triglyceride levels. The sugar-added female mice did have higher cholesterol and decreased ability to clear added sugar from their bloodstreams. The researchers had no signals to tell them that the mice were going to die prematurely. Humans may also have no physical signs or abnormal laboratory tests to tell themselves or their doctors that excess sugar intake is harming them.

Read the List of Ingredients

If you are exercising vigorously for more than an hour, you need to take sugar during your exercise. Otherwise, try to restrict foods that have a lot of added sugars: sodas, candy, cakes, pastries, most desserts, energy bars, energy drinks, sports drinks, cookies, pies, sweet rolls, donuts, ice cream, fruit drinks and so forth.

Here is a partial list of names of ingredients that are added sugars in foods: *beet sugar, *brown sugar, *cane sugar, *caramel, *carob syrup, *date sugar, *dextran, *dextrose, *fructose, *fruit juice, *fruit juice concentrate, *glucose, *glucose solids, *golden sugar, *golden syrup, *granulated sugar, *grape sugar, *high-fructose corn syrup, *honey, *invert sugar, *lactose, *malt syrup, *maltodextrin, *maltose, *maple syrup, *mannitol, *molasses, *nectars, *pancake syrup, *raw sugar, *refiner's syrup, *sorghum syrup, *sucrose, *sugar, *turbinado sugar, *white granulated table sugar, *yellow sugar.

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High Blood Sugar Increases Cancer in Flies

When young Drosophila fruit flies with the cancer-causing genes, Ras and Src, were fed high protein, low-sugar diets, their tumors generally remained very small and localized. However, soon after starting a high-sugar diet, the tumors grew and spread through their bodies, killing many of them. The authors of this study showed that a high rise in blood sugar turned on the Ras and Src genes that cause cancer (Cell, published online Aug 12, 2013).

Almost 100 years ago (1922), Otto H. Warburg showed that cancer cells get their energy by fermenting sugar. Preventing sugar from entering cancer cells, or preventing cancer cells from using sugar could then cure cancer. See my detailed explanation here: Blocking Glycolysis May Cure Cancer

In This Study

The high-sugar diet made the flies diabetic in the same way it causes diabetes in humans, preventing their cells from responding to insulin. The higher blood sugar levels rise, the more insulin is released by the pancreas in an effort to lower the high blood sugar.

Most human diabetics have excessive amounts of insulin. Before insulin can do its job of driving sugar into cells, it must first attach to special hooks on cell membranes called insulin receptors. Most diabetes is caused by an inability of insulin to attach onto its receptors. This is called insulin resistance.

With Diabetes, More Sugar Goes to Cancer Cells

With insulin resistance, normal healthy cells in the flies were unable to get sugar inside their membranes. Because most of the sugar could not get into normal cells, more sugar was available for the cancer cells.

Since sugar is the main source of energy for cancer cells, cancer cells tend to become even more sensitive to insulin and take up much of the extra sugar and use the extra energy from the extra sugar. This makes them grow larger and spread through the body. The authors showed that this marked increase in tumor cell-specific insulin sensitivity came through a chemical signaling pathway called Wingless/Wnt.

The authors write: "Sugar activates oncogenes in the tumor, which then promote insulin sensitivity, meaning that the exorbitant glucose levels in the blood pour into the tumor, having nowhere else to go in the insulin-resistant body."

How the Authors Treated Cancer in Flies

The authors then treated the flies with three-drugs that included:

• The diabetes drug Acarbose, which lowers blood sugar levels by preventing starches in the intestines from being broken down into single sugars. Starch cannot pass into the bloodstream. Only single sugars can be absorbed from the intestines.

• Pyrvinium, a drug that inhibits Wingless/Wnt signaling that causes cancers, and

• Their own experimental anticancer drug, AD81, that blocks the Ras and Src genes that cause cancer.

The flies did not benefit much from taking any of the drugs alone. However, more than 90 percent of the flies given the triple-drug treatment survived to adulthood and had their tumors regress. Without all three drugs, none survived.

The Link Between High Blood Sugar and Cancer

Having diabetes, or having a fasting blood sugar above 100 without diabetes, increases cancer risk. We have known for more than 30 years that anything known to raise blood sugar levels increases cancer risk:

• Diabetes

• Metabolic syndrome

• Lack of exercise

• Obesity

• Abdominal obesity

• Eating saturated fats from animals (blocks insulin receptors)

• Taking sugared drinks and eating sugar added foods

• Lack of fruits and vegetables

• Lack of fiber

We also know that high blood sugar levels are associated with the following cancers: liver, gall bladder, respiratory tract, thyroid, rectum, colon, pancreas, bladder, uterus, cervix, stomach, breast, multiple myeloma and others (Public Library of Science Medicine, January, 2010).

You reduce your chances of developing cancer with any of the lifestyle changes that lower blood sugar levels: • Losing weight if overweight

• Exercising

• Avoiding sugared drinks including fruit juices, except during vigorous exercise

• Restricting all sugar-added foods

• Limiting carbohydrates that have been made more absorbable by cooking, grinding, soaking or juicing

• Eating plenty of whole, raw vegetables and fruits

• Keeping blood hydroxy vitamin D levels above 75 nmol/L

This week's medical history:
Cole Porter’s Many Medical Problems

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries

Recipe of the Week:

Artichole-Wild Rice Salad

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

August 18th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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