Breast cancer lesson number 67: Why cancer won’t stop me eating chocolate… and it shouldn’t stop you either

Scratch the surface of a cancer diagnosis and it won’t take long to discover that this nasty illness is not an easy one to understand. So, it will come as no surprise then that, for every piece of sound and practical advice delivered by research scientists and medical experts, there are a whole series of myths out there, waiting to prey on vulnerable cancer-dominated minds.

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The idea that cancer feeds off sugar is one such myth. As explained by Cancer Research UK in an interesting article: 10 persistent cancer myths debunked (click here for the full article), to say cancer has a sweet tooth is to oversimplify the issue and distort sensible dietary advice. While no one would recommend consuming your body weight in Cadbury’s Creme Eggs or having a piece of cake with every meal, fighting and preventing cancer isn’t about taking away all pleasures in life. It’s about adopting a healthy diet that limits sugar intake, but doesn’t eliminate it entirely. 

Science has confirmed the link between a healthy diet and reducing the risk of cancer. Yes, cancer cells have a taste for glucose. But so too do our normal cells, which use it for energy. Unlike us, cancer cells don’t have a soft spot for the sugar that derives from cream cakes and pavlova. Glucose is glucose and it also comes from carbohydrates, which are broken down in our digestive system to produce both fructose and glucose. You’re not going to hear people saying that vegetables cause cancer now are you? 

If you’re looking for a miracle cure, now is the time to stop. If it were scientifically proven that giving up sugar – or having coffee enemas for that matter – would prevent cancer coming back, I would try my hardest to stop chomping on Cadbury’s creme eggs (and would bulk buy the coffee). But, when it comes to diet, there’s a reason the oncologist said not to change a thing. 

I, for one, am going to enjoy my chocolate Easter eggs – alongside my seven a day – every year for the rest of my long and, hopefully cancer-free, life. And, I hope there’s a chocolate-covered treat waiting for you too.

 

3 comments

  1. I certainly agree with you that a life devoid of pleasure is no life at all, and I refuse to give up all sugar, wine, meat, etc. I believe the key lies in improving your diet and lifestyle and following more of an 80/20 rule. Be sensible with eating and exercise 80% of the time, and live it up the other 20%. The unfortunate truth is that we have some genetic vulnerability that gave us cancer where most don’t get it. So we have to be more vigilant with these things than the general population.

    Being overweight and having insulin resistance (big belly) definitely increases the odds of recurrence. And all sugar is not created equal; the fiber in vegetables blunts any insulin spike by slowing down the absorption of glucose. An equal amount of jelly beans (or bread for that matter) will send your blood sugar soaring, creating inflammation which is one of the hallmarks of cancer. So enjoy your chocolates, and have some nice Brussels sprouts for dinner:)

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Plenty of veg for dinner and already completed a 3-mile run today (which for a non runner post DIEP surgery is a big deal for me). The creme egg will be a well-deserved treat. Happy Easter to you! J

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