Broadway Bakery Ltd has released a survey of scientific studies revealing that sugar is causing cancer, with sugar in hot beverages alone linked to increased incidences of colonic and rectal cancer, and sugar recently found to be a trigger and accelerator for breast cancer. The survey comes at a time when Kenyans are ranked among the highest consumers of sugar in the developing world.
“Kenyans are becoming more aware of the high risk of diabetes caused by excessive sugar consumption, but we believe that few have yet realised that sugar is, itself, directly carcinogenic,” said Mr. Bimal Shah, Managing Director of Broadway Bakery, which has launched its own privately-funded public education campaign to raise awareness in an effort to slow the soaring death toll being caused by excessive sugar consumption in Kenya.
Noble Laureate Otto Warburg first discovered that cancer cells do not need oxygen to survive, as other cells do, but can feed and grow directly from pure, un-metabolized sugar. Historically, humans only absorbed metabolized sugar from vegetables, fruits and other natural sources. But the take-off in confectionary and added sugar has seen the arrival of sometimes large amounts of un-metabolized sugar in consumers’ blood streams.
“With the now high prevalence of cancer in Kenya at an estimated 39,000 new cases and more than 28,000 deaths a year, Kenyans should be aware that there is a close link between high sugar consumption and the risk of developing certain types of cancer,” said Dr. Kirtida Acharya, chairperson of Diabetes Kenya.
The way in which sugar accelerates the growth of cancer cells has since been known as the Warburg Effect and sees doctors advise cancer sufferers to immediately stop consuming sugar, with a 2011 review of Warburg’s work reporting that cancer cells use 10 times as much sugar to grow as ordinary cells, meaning that the body requires extra sugar to fuel the growth of cancer.
In 2013, scientists in Singapore and Denmark found that “immature sugar molecules aid in the growth properties of cancer cells.” Last year, research published by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) in the journal Cancer Research was one of many more studies again that reported: “Our data provides strong evidence that added sugar (sucrose) accelerates the development of breast cancer.”
The studies on sugar and cancer have also delivered mounting evidence that sugar does not only accelerate cancer growth, but also acts as a trigger in causing cancer. Typical was a 1993 study in Northern Italy that found that people who took sugar in their coffee or hot beverages were more likely to develop colon and rectal cancer than those who did not.
Catherina Steentoft, a scientist in the 2013 AACR study, commented that understanding the link with sugar might eventually help in developing better cancer treatment. “This is part of how we will proceed in the battle against cancer. When you know a certain process is important for the development of cancer you can start to consider ways to affect this process in a way that stops the cancer cell from taking advantage of it,” she said.
This has since seen scientists turn to anti-sugar drugs as possible cures for cancer. One such drug is metformin. Traditionally used to treat type 2 diabetes by decreasing the amount of glucose released into the bloodstream, this age-old drug is now being tested as a viable treatment for cancer.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is now sponsoring trials of the drug as a cancer treatment, as is the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the US.
“We have seen sugar taxes introduced across the world to deter consumers from sugar and pay for the ballooning healthcare costs caused by lifestyle diseases that are the result of excessive sugar consumption. But we believe that consumers are not deliberately exposing themselves to cancer. They simply do not know that cancer cells feed off un-metabolized sugar, which is why we are seeking to raise awareness and put people back in control of their health, especially as almost everyone is affected by cancer either directly or indirectly,” said Mr. Bimal Shah.
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