Carbohydrates - The Cancer Connection

Carbohydrates - The Cancer Connection

Cancer cells feed directly on blood glucose, similar to a fermenting yeast organism. Swings in blood sugar, where the blood becomes flooded with glucose after sugar consumption, are like tossing gasoline on a smoldering fire. Here are some of the studies that support cautious use of sugar for a pre-cancerous or cancerous condition :

  • There is a well-accepted association between elevated insulin levels and cancer potential.
  • Cancer cells show a three to five-fold increase in glucose uptake compared to healthy cells. Modest ingestion of glucose (75grams) caused a measurable decline in cell-mediated immunity in seven healthy human volunteers.
  • Healthy human volunteers ingested 100-gram portions of simple sugars from sucrose, fructose, white sugar, honey, and orange juice. The simple sugars significantly impaired the ability of the white blood cells to engulf bacteria for up to six hours. Complex sugar ingestion did not have this reaction.
  • An epidemiological (population) study of twenty-one countries indicates that a high sugar intake is a major risk factor for breast cancer.
  • In a study where animals were fed isocaloric diets of carbohydrates, the group consuming more sugar developed significantly more mammary tumors than the starch-fed group.
  • Women who drank two to five servings of alcohol per day had a 40 percent higher risk of breast cancer than non-drinkers did.
  • According to a profile of Medical Director, Darryl See, M.D., of The Immune Institute in Huntington Beach, CA, the institute''s low sugar diet for Cancer protocols ”….doesn''t just include avoiding refined and natural sweeteners, but also high sugar-content fruits, alcohol and refined carbohydrates such as white flour. Normal cells utilize fats and proteins as fuel in addition to utilizing glucose (blood sugar). Adhering to a low sugar diet not only robs cancer cells of the nutrition they need, but also prevents sugar''s deleterious effects on the body that encourage cancer growth. These effects include suppressing the immune system, creating an acidic environment and stimulating prostaglandin E2 production that promotes tumor growth.”


Fat is a common fast food, from french fries (80 times the amount of fat contained in a baked potato) to chicken fried steak, fish (as in fish n chips), salad dressings, hash browns, fried eggs, ice cream (with nuts),and so forth.

Fat does not really become digested until it leaves the stomach after three hours. Once fats enter the first section of the small intestine, the duodenum, bile salts from the liver are poured from the gall bladder to emulsify them before they travel the intestines for absorption. Therefore, fat provides a sense of fullness, of solidity, of a “stick to your ribs” kind of feeling. Fat has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which makes it a common food to eat in place of sugar since it can sometimes delay cravings. Fat''s texture and lack of fiber make it similar to a baby food; no doubt there is some association with fat (particularly dairy food) as a “comfort food”.

Moderation has always been the hallmark of good health. The real work is to find the balance and reduce the foods that trigger cravings for fats or that make a body experience continual blood sugar drops. From most research, the probable dietary culprits for these problems and those that can influence the growth of cancers are refined foods, sugar, excessive fat, and excessive protein – everything we claim to love.

All fats have different amounts of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats. Although I discuss briefly these individual categories, no naturally occurring fat has one or two of these types of fatty acids, but combinations of each.

Rich monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature, while saturated fatty acids remain solid. The standard American diet contains combinations of these types, although for many years there has been an emphasis on saturated types. Saturated fatty acids are often found in animal products, such as whole milk, cheese, butter, egg yolks, beek, lamb, and pork. Some of these might contain small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well.

On the other hand, vegetable oils, such as corn, sesame, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed, are fairly high in polyunsaturated acids. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive, canola, peanut, and avocado oils as well as in nuts and seeds. An exception to the rule is coconut and palm oil. These oils are highly saturated and, strangely enough, a common ingredient in many processed foods. Saturated fats fats will raise blood cholesterol levels. Currently, there is no positive data on the benefits of saturated fats but reams of research on its negative effects.

Regardless of the type of fatty acid you consume, It''s worth remembering that all fats can be potentially harmful if eaten excessively. Diets high in any kind of fat (with the exception of fish oils) have been associated with cancer.

Oxygen Bandits

As you inhale, millions of oxygen molecules attach themselves to red blood cells and travel to cell structures by way of progressively narrowing vessels called arteries, arterioles, and finally, capillaries. The red blood cells have a slight electromagnetic charge that repels them from each other, keeping them separate so they flow smoothly through the capillary.

In the narrow diameter of the capillary, the oxygen molecules disengage from the red blood cell and pass through the capillary wall to enter cells. In exchange, cellular waste (carbon dioxide) enters the capillary, attaches itself to the red blood cell, and hitchhikes to the lungs, where it is discharged through exhalation.

The best way to upset this flow of red cells is by consuming a fatty meal. Fat, by various mechanisms, makes the blood sticky. In digestion, fats are broken down and emulsified into small droplets called chylomicrons. Different from other nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids, which are carried directly to the liver by the bloodstream, fats are absorbed into the lymphatic system, a slow-moving auxiliary circulation to the blood system. The lymphatic system bypasses the liver and empties the fat into the blood at the heart level. Now, the heart pumps the fat throughout the body. The bottomline : Consuming an excessive amount of fat means a bloodstream full of fat.

Fat coats the cells and makes them bond together. The cell sticking, or clumping, traps them. Most frequently it''s described as “sticky blood cell syndrome”. This gumming of red blood cells prevents oxygen molecules from entering the cells. The result is a deprival of oxygen. Estimates of such oxygen loss have been calculated at 30 percent.

Cancer cells will thrive in a deoxygenated environment. Any substance that diminishes cellular oxygen can foster the growth of cancer cells.

Cancer Risks

China, Japan, and Singapore, where the majority of the population consumes a low-fat diet, have the lowest incidence of breast cancer. Countries that have a higher percentage of fats, such as England, Scotland, Wales, and Finland, have a greater incidence of breast cancer. Finnish on higher fat diets show greater estradiol levels than Asian women – and a higher degree of breast cancer. Estradiol, one of the most powerful natural forms of estrogen is increased in the body by 30 percent when a high fat diet is followed. Many breast tumors are fueled by estrogen.

While estrogens are normal and essential hormones for both men and women, the higher the production of estrogen, the higher the chance of stimulating certain kinds of breast cancer. On high-fat diets, estrogen levels increase; on low-fat diets, they decrease. This pattern is also found in prostate cancer. Men who consume diets that emphasize animal proteins tend to have more testosterone and higher levels of estrogen when compared with men who have lower levels of animal protein and fat. This could also be due to the way fiber will bond to sex hormones and help discharge them from the body before they can become reabsorbed within the intestine. Among the women who consumed more animal products there was a three times higher cancer risk compared with the other women in this study.

The power of vegetarian diet can be undermined by the inclusion of milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Some studies of lacto-ovo-vegetarians (vegetarians who eat milk and egg products) have found that their cancer risk is comparable to meat eaters. While these vegetarians were avoiding meat, they were eating considerable amounts of dairy products, which, like meats, contain animal fat and are devoid of fiber. However, vegetable oil is not exempt. Vegetable oils have been shown to affect estrogen levels while increasing cancer- causing free radicals. More than substituting deep-fried onion rings for fried chicken, the wisest preventive, as well as healing choice, would be to eliminate, or dramatically reduce, animal protein and consume a minimum amount of vegetable oils. PROTEIN The word protein usually conjures instant associations with meats, dairy food, and most recently, protein powders. There was a time when people believed they could never get enough protein.

While there are many myths surrounding protein, the idea that protein is vitally important is not a myth. Protein is a crucial component of every cell and most of the chemicals necessary for life. We build the proteins of our body from the protein in our diets. Protein is essential for blood vessels, skin, bones, muscles, cartilage, lymph, hair, digestion, enzymes, antibodies, and some hormones. Hundreds of other body functions depend on protein. However, this does not mean we must have a high degree of protein to sustain these functions. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, urinary tract calcium stones, and some cancer development.

After almost a century of nutrition, the best advice is to eat a well-balanced diet, not a high-protein. Cells in the body are exposed to ammonia whenever protein is broken down. The higher the protein volume, the greater the possibility of producing damaging quantities of ammonia. The kidneys take the worst beating from having to eliminate the breakdown products of urea, uric acid, and sulfur. Excess protein creates an acidic condition of the blood, requiring the body to mobilize minerals such as bone calcium to neutralize increasing acidity. When the kidneys eliminate these breakdown products, the mobilized calcium goes with it.

Although fat is portrayed as the underlying cause of male cancers, protein has a definite role. Populations that eat meat on a regular basis seem to be at an increased risk for colon cancer. Researchers believe that fat, protein, natural carcinogens, and the basence of fiber in meat all play significant roles. In 1982, the national Research Council noted a link between cancer and protein.

Beans have been noted to lower bile acid production by 30 percent in men with a tendency toward elevated bile acid. Bile acids are necessary for proper fat digestion but in excess have been associated with causing cancer, especially in the large intestine. Case-control studies showed that pinto and navy beans were effective in lowering bile acid production in men at high risk for this condition.

A Healthy Perspective on Protein

  • Your protein needs can be met by eating a wider variety of plant foods without the dependency of animal protein. The healthiest, cancer-preventing sources of protein are beans based products, whole grains, and vegetables.
  • Only 12 to 15 percent of your daily calories should originate from protein. Excess protein turns to body fat.
  • Many types of animal protein contain high percentages of fat, which can be responsible for numerous disease conditions related to a high fat intake.
  • For athletic performance, complex carbohydrates are the most effective and clean-burning fuel. Most frequently, athletic needs are based on greater volume of foods.
  • For extremely active individuals or those on conventional cancer therapy (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.), more protein might be required.


The Nature''s Cancer-Fighting Food Program includes a varied diet of whole grains, beans, and vegetables that contain all the essential amino acids. Occasionally animal protein, during a dietary transition or when weak, might be recommended; however, this must be based on individual considerations, not a blanket rule.

Extract from the book “Nature''s Cancer-Fighting Foods.” By Verne Varona.