Lower Carb = Lower Cancer Risk?

It’s becoming well established that hyperglycemia (impaired glucose tolerance) is not only a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease, but it appears to be an independent predictor of cancer.

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This chronically elevated blood sugar is driven by insulin resistance, which (among other things) develops over time from consuming excess carbohydrates.

Essentially, insulin is secreted to lower blood sugar after a carbohydrate-rich meal. The more often these meals are consumed, and the more carbohydrates they contain, the more frequently and heavily insulin is secreted. Over time, cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, which causes blood sugar to remain elevated longer than usual.

Aside from increasing fat storage (obesity) and triglycerides (heart disease), and attaching to fat and protein molecules to form AGEs, this sugary blood appears to feed cancer cells.

For whatever reason, cancer cells consume more sugar than other cells; and similar to human beings, they appear to develop an addiction to it over time. This is why various research studies have suggested that consuming excess carbohydrates, is effectively fueling cancer cells.

A 2011 study in the Nutrition and Metabolism Journal, discusses how the increased prevalence of cancer is correlated with a switch from eating predominantly like a hunter-gatherer, to a diet dominated by starchy carbohydrates.

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Now, I’m not going to go claiming that simply reducing your sugar/carb intake will ensure you never get cancer. But, since tumor cells depend almost entirely on glucose for survival, it’s reasonable to think that restricting carbohydrates can starve them.  And interestingly, the ketone bodies produced when someone lowers their carb intake to a point where they’re burning fat as fuel, have also been recognized as an effective anti-cancer agent.

The other coincidence is that insulin resistance and obesity are both linked to cancer mortality. And aside from a direct linear relationship with hyperglycemia, they are both the result of a diet high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates.

But since we don’t know 100%, I’ll let you make your own judgment. As far as I’m concerned, this is simply an added benefit to an eating strategy that already drastically improves your overall health.

Decreasing your carbohydrate intake lowers inflammation, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces all of the key biomarkers for diabetes and heart disease.

Whether it’s causing cancer or not, you should be working to control blood sugar and inflammation, and prevent obesity and insulin resistance.  And in all 4 cases, this starts with reducing or eliminating sugar and starchy carbohydrates.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike


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