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Does Sugar Cause Cancer? 3 Myths Busted

July 29, 2021

Chances are, you’ve heard the many myths about sugar: “Sugar is addictive,” “sugar is bad for you,” and perhaps the scariest — “sugar causes cancer.” Sugar feeds every cell in the body, including cancer cells. But it doesn’t cause cancer cells to grow and spread.

Myth 1: Sugar Causes Cancer 

There’s no research that shows a direct connection between sugar and cancer, or that eliminating sugar from your diet will prevent cancer cells from growing or spreading. 

However, consuming too much sugar can cause weight gain, obesity and diabetes, which all can put you at greater risk  for many types of cancer, including: 

  • Breast

  • Colorectal

  • Endometrial

  • Pancreatic

  • Prostate 

All cells in our body require glucose for energy. Even if you remove sugar from your diet entirely, the body will make glucose from other sources, including protein and fat.

Myth 2: You Must Cut Out All Sugar 

You don’t need to avoid all sugar to stay healthy. In fact, sugar is an important part of a balanced diet, particularly when it comes from natural sources like fruit. Your body makes its own sugar from other macronutrients in your diet, such as protein, fat and complex carbohydrates, so eating added sugar isn’t necessary. It’s all about moderation. 

Rather than completely cutting sugar from your diet, aim to limit refined carbohydrates, along with foods and beverages with added sugars. Instead focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet high in fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains. 

According to the American Heart Association, women should limit their added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, a day. Men should limit their sugar consumption to no more than 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams, a day.  

Myth 3: Fruit Has Too Much Sugar 

You don’t have to limit fruit just because it contains fructose, a naturally occurring sugar. Fructose is only harmful in excessive amounts, and it’s very difficult to eat enough fruit to reach those levels of fructose in your diet. 

Fruit is full of fiber and contains other nutrients, like vitamin C, that are essential for health and bodily function. If you are watching your sugar intake, there are fruits that are higher in sugar than others. These include: 

  • Mangoes

  • Grapes

  • Cherries

  • Pears

  •  Watermelon

  •  Figs

  • Bananas 

Fruits lower in sugar include: 

  • Lemons

  • Berries

  • Kiwi

  • Grapefruit

  •  Avocado

  •  Cantaloupe

  • Oranges 

If you remove fruit from your diet, you will miss out on essential nutrients that may improve your health and keep your energy levels up. Instead of avoiding fruit, eat fruit in healthy portions. Dietary guidelines suggest between 2 and 2.5 cups of fruit each day for a person on a 2,000-calorie diet.

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