Added Sugars: Soda versus Food

Added sugar is making a lot of news lately. Last week, I wrote about the FDA’s proposed new Nutrition Facts label that would show how much sugar is added to foods. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released their new recommendation for an upper limit on how much added sugar we eat. They now say that no more than 5% of total daily calories should come from added sugars – about 100 calories, or 25 grams of sugar – for an adult.

Twenty-five grams of added sugar is not much. Check out the table below to see two ways you’d reach that daily limit – one way is pure sugar, another includes foods with cancer fighting compounds.

A sugary soda (8-ounces) vs. 4 delicious, healthful foods
Bottle of soda isolated on white background. Clipping Path
25 grams
=
Healthy breakfast
6 grams
Vanilla yogurt over strawberries banana and blueberries isolated on white.
11 grams
Raspberry jam dripping from a spoon isolated on white background
3 grams
Delicious chocolates closeup on white background
5 grams

Added sugar is a concern, especially in sugary beverages, because it contributes to overweight and obesity which is linked to 7 cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal and endometrial.

For those interested, WHO is accepting public comments on this recommendation.


New Nutrition Label, New Tool for Cancer Prevention

In the next couple of years, it may be easier to know whether your packaged food choice is a cancer fighter or an empty calorie bust.

Proposed Nutrition Facts Label

Proposed Nutrition Facts Label

The FDA unveiled their proposed Nutrition Facts Label and the emphasis is clearly on calories, added sugar and serving sizes. That’s important, because eating too many calories means weight gain, and consuming sugary drinks is strongly linked with weight gain, overweight and obesity.

And, 117,000 cases of cancer every year are caused by obesity in the U.S., so anything that shines a light on how much we are actually eating is a step in the right direction.

To be clear, many of the best cancer-fighting foods don’t have labels on them. Think tomatoes, carrots, apples, squash, blueberries, leafy greens and any fruit or vegetable in the produce section. But in many grocery aisles, you may need some help with choosing foods like soups, yogurt and cereals.

Here are 3 ways the new label will help you choose cancer fighters:

1.            Big, Bold Calories: It’s the first thing that you see –no confusion about how many calories you’re getting. You will need to know how to put calories in context, though. But if you know you’re aiming for about 1600 calories per day, for example, a snack that packs more than 200 calories may help you put that food back on the shelf.

Eat so that you can get to and stay a healthy weight – it is the most important thing you can do to lower cancer risk (after not smoking). Continue reading


Mammograms: Putting Headlines in Context

As an organization that focuses on helping people reduce their risk and survive cancer, we’re getting a lot of questions about a major study released this week on mammograms. And if you’ve read about the study questioning the benefits of mammograms, there’s a good chance you’re confused.mammogram_dreamstime_xs_21847816

The Canadian study involving about 90,000 women ages 40-59 was published this week in the British Medical Journal. The study spanned 25 years and during that time about half the women received regular mammograms and annual breast exams; the other half only had the breast exams.

The study found that whether the women received regular mammograms or not, a similar number of women died from breast cancer over the years.

The value of regular mammogram screening has been controversial for awhile– five years ago the United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) changed its guidelines, recommending that regular mammogram screening begin at age 50 every two years rather than age 40 every year. As we wrote at that time, AICR’s recommendations relate to the prevention of cancer through diet, weight and physical activity; for screenings, like mammography, AICR’s materials rely on the National Cancer Institute recommendations.

Your own decision about mammography is best made in consultation with your health care provider who can help you weigh the risks and benefits based on your history and personal risk factors.

For more on the study and perspectives from other organizations, here’s a CNN article.

For prevention, AICR’s expert report and it’s continuous updates have found that lifestyle matters. There are specific steps you can take to lower your risk for breast cancers.  For postmenopausal breast cancers, for example:

  • aim to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day,
  • get to and stay a healthy weight
  • avoid alcoholic beverages or if you do drink, limit to 1 drink a day.

AICR estimates that about 38% of breast cancer cases – about 90,000 every year – in the U.S. could be prevented by following those recommendations.

Learn more about the research on reducing risk for breast and other cancers.