Research Paper: Sugar Feeds Cancer



Research Paper: Sugar Feeds Cancer  

According to Ty Bollinger, “The biggest cancer causing food (by far) is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other refined sugars.” (Bollinger). This statement is simply unsubstantiated, it was written by a person with no medical background who cites himself as the source. In reality sugar doesn’t feed cancer cells more than any other cells and sugar doesn’t cause cancer, cancer cells consume any cell to grow especially the ones the body uses for energy, sugars in the body just happen to be one. According to MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, “It’s true that sugar feeds every cell in our body — even cancer cells. But, research shows that eating sugar doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer. It’s what sugar does to your waistline that can lead to cancer.” (MD Anderson Cancer Center). This idea is just one common myth or misconception about cancer, there are others that include cancer treatment and what can cause cancer. There are several reasons people should know about cancer, and it is crucial that every person knows and understands the myths and misconceptions about cancer. 

Cancer is a disease that can effect anyone, according to the National Cancer Institute “Approximately 39.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2015–2017 data). In 2020, an estimated 16,850 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,730 will die of the disease.” (Cancer Statistics). When people think of cancer the thought that ‘it could never happen to me, just to other people’ is common, but that just isn’t true.  Most people know someone who has or had cancer, or someone who has lost someone because of cancer. Additionally, according to the website Our World in Data, “…9.6 million people are estimated too have died from the various forms of cancer. Every sixth death in the world is due to cancer, making it the second leading cause of death – second only to cardiovascular diseases.” (Roser). Cancer is something that may effect everyone in some way, which is why people should understand the difference between fact and myth to help people help others understand the disease and differentiate fact from common belief.

One of the first things that needs to be discussed when talking about cancer is what causes someone's cancer. A human carcinogen is the technical term for something that causes cancer in a person, hence the 'human' part. A carcinogen can be natural of artificial, but in one way or another they increase the risk. of the human body developing cancer. One misconception about human carcinogens is that they are all dangerous, but in reality carcinogens are only dangerous for certain amounts of human exposure. The American Cancer Society says, “When you see a story in the news linking something to cancer, especially if it’s something you’re exposed to on a regular basis, your first reaction is often to think that we need to avoid it at all costs. But it’s not usually that simple.” (How). They also said you can’t always avoid carcinogens, they are in most places and some carcinogens have more advantages than disadvantages. Take the sun for example, the radiation and UV rays it gives off are considered to be human carcinogens since they can cause skin cancer for example, but people don’t always avoid the sun. People prepare if they are going to spend a lot of time in the sun, like wearing sunscreen in order to lower their risk of getting cancer and protect their skin. It is important to be aware of the environmental aspects that can influence someone's cancer risk and to understand that not all cancer causing agents are deadly to humans in the right amount. 

One common misconception about cancer is that food can cause cancer and food can cure cancer, as of 2020 there is no scientific evidence to support either claim. “From the chemically-lined bag to the actual contents, microwave popcorn is at the center of lung cancer debates around the world.” (Bollinger). There is evidence backed by science that certain foods can lower the risk of a person getting cancer, but no food really has a large impression on whether or not someone gets cancer. Foods in excess can increase the risk of someone getting cancer, since obesity has been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer, and certain foods in moderation can lower the risk of someone getting cancer but foods haven’t been scientifically proven to directly cause cancer or cure cancer. Basically certain foods contribute to risk, but foods do not directly cause cancer like some people claim. It is also important to remember that one thing that can have an effect on cancer risk, it can either increase risk or decrease risk, that thing is a person's diet and overall health. 

A good diet is said to prevent a lot of things, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer. It is true that a good healthy diet can lower the risk of developing cancer but it cannot eliminate the risk entirely, like some people claim. In 2017 a man who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer underwent chemo for a while then stopped the treatment and began a hard-core vegan diet. In the end after ending chemotherapy and starting a vegan diet, the man claimed that the vegan diet cured his cancer. (Steele). This was debated by his doctors, on what cured the man's cancer. Was it the vegan diet, the chemotherapy, or those things working together? Either way, there is no evidence that a vegan diet can cure cancer. A vegan diet has many advantages but it has not been proven that a vegan diet can cure cancer, a vegan diet simply reduces the risks of developing cancer. On another note, some cancers are caused by genetics which is hard to lower the risk of, one thing that could possibly lower the risk of genetic cancer is a good diet and healthy weight management. “Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, liver, and kidney, as well as several others.” (Diet and Physical Activity). Overall, a good healthy diet can help lower the risks of cancer but it cannot cure someone's cancer. 

Another misconception about cancer is the general survival rate of cancer. When most people hear ‘cancer’ they typically think that it means death, but the survival rate of every cancer is different. When looking at 5 year cancer survival rates people tend to look at the one with the highest. As of today, according to Our World in Data where they compile data from Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the type of cancer with the highest survival rate is testicular cancer with a 95% survival rating. The reason people look at all cancer as death is because of the statistics associated with brain cancer, which has a 7% survival rate, and mesothelioma with a 6.5% survival rate. The main thing to think about when looking at the numbers is the number of people who get these types of cancer. As of 2016, in the United States there is only a 0.7% chance of men developing brain or nervous system cancer, that number is 0.5% for women, which means in 2016 approximately 22,617,000 people were diagnosed with brain or nervous system cancer.(Cancer Survival Rates). These numbers may look grim, but according to the data the number of cancer deaths in the United States is on a downward trend as there are advances in cancer treatment. Same thing goes for the world, all cancer related deaths are currently in a downward trend as the years go on and there are advances in medicine and cancer treatment. 

Cancer treatment is also something people worry about when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. One common misconception is that treatment hurts a lot or does more damage than good. One topic of debate and treatment surrounds radiation treatment specifically, one common myth is that radiation treatment will kill you. In reality radiation treatments are very effective and target cancer cells to kill the cells or damage their DNA, and though it can last a while the radiation treatment does not kill. There is however, the obvious downsides and limits to the amount of radiation a certain area of a patients body can receive. One of the downsides to radiation treatment is the physical tole on the patient. Some of the side effects include nausea, mouth sores, and throat problems. These side effects can make it hard for patients to eat, but it is important that people understand how effective this treatment is. With its many downsides it is  easy to turn away from radiation but it has around a 90% chance success rate which seems to be worth the side effects. (Radiation Therapy). 

Overall, when dealing with cancer it is crucial to understand that cancer doesn’t always mean death. It is also very important to understand that though most people will be affected by cancer in one way or another, you don’t need to change your lifestyle drastically to lower your risk of developing cancer. Doing small things can significantly lower the risk, such as not smoking or drinking. Understanding most aspects of cancer is important not only lower your own risk of developing cancer and gain knowledge in the event the you get cancer, but help someone understand their diagnosis and lower their chances of developing a type of cancer.