Friday, August 6, 2010

Are we feeding our own cancer cells?

If you eat a lot of fructose (which most of us do), the scary answer might be yes.

There is a lot of fructose in the American diet, as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has infiltrated our grocery stores. The consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has actually risen 1,000% from 1970-1990.

This study just came out showing that fructose actually stimulates the growth of pancreatic cancer cells (CBS news overview here).

Fructose is taken up by cancer cells and used to make new nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of cell growth and proliferation.

The authors of this study write:
“Fructose is a particularly significant dietary sugar component with important implications for patients with cancer, particularly given the significant dietary change that has occurred in human fructose consumption since the mid- 20th century. Our findings provide important insights into recent epidemiologic studies that have identified refined fructose as an independent risk factor for pancreatic cancer, and identify fructose-mediated actions as a novel therapeutic cancer target.”
When I checked the ingredient list on my packaged foods at home, I was shocked at how much had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it... even my "healthy" whole-wheat bagels and my seemingly innocent ketchup and BBQ sauce.

Can decreasing the amount of fructose in our diet inhibit cancer growth? This is the question we need to research now. 

Eliminating HFCS is essentially what the Ornish diet does when they recommend a whole foods, plant based diet. Some preliminary studies show that this diet, along with exercise and stress reduction, may have some effect on the progression of prostate cancer (in addition to reversing atherosclerotic disease).

How much HFCS are hospitals serving patients? I wish we could say zero. I’ve been thinking a lot about Ben’s post and could not agree more that hospitals should provide nutrition labels on their food.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fructose issue, here’s a post and “mini-med school lecture” about it. I’m sure this is something we’ll be hearing more and more about. 


  1. The burnt sugar smell at the CPC (Corn Products Company) in Nebraska forever turned my nose off to HFCS. Compared to the sweet fragrances of organic gardens past, no contest. Going to the source and seeing our food-stuff appear out of nature is fun and seems to optimize health at the same time. Nice seeds of wisdom here,, thanks for sowing them!!

  2. Ever since watching a video you posted a few months ago we have completely gotten rid of HFCS. Even Heinz has announced they will no long be using it in their ketchup.

  3. Hey John, gross about the burnt sugar smell at the CPC. At least it helped you discover how toxic HFCS is. Yes, going to the whole and natural source of food seems to be the way to go.

    Craig, yeah that video is pretty convincing and I'm so glad to hear that about Heinz! Hopefully more companies will follow their lead.