Fruit Flies, Sugar and Your Cancer Risk

Sugar and cancer: it’s a hot topic these days and this week it made headlines again. A new study in fruit flies suggests that a high-sugar diet may explain why people with type 2 diabetes and obesity are at a higher risk for cancer.canstockphoto6419328

The study was published in Cell and here is the abstract. Basically, the study found that when fruit flies consumed a high-sugar diet it changes the signaling pathways of two human genes that can cause cancer called oncogenes, Ras and Src. That, in turn, caused tumor progression and metastasis.

Articles on the study have honed in on the dangers of a high-sugar diet for cancer risk, so we spoke with our nutrition advisor Karen Collins, a registered dietitian and expert on diabetes and cancer risk. Here, Karen talks about the study and says that when it comes to eating for lower cancer risk and good health, it’s not all about the sugar.

Q: This study focuses on metabolic disorders seen in type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Why is this important?
A: The research shows that people with type 2 diabetes and obesity are at increased risk of developing several cancers, such as postmenopausal breast and pancreatic. A metabolic environment in the body with inflammation and high levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factors is common to both type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer, and seems to be part of what promotes their development. Continue reading


Health and Your Metabolic Health: Does Obesity Matter?

Should obese people who are metabolically healthy be advised to lose weight?

Risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer all increase with excess body fat. Yet research has identified two unique groups: those who are obese but metabolically healthy, and those who are a healthy weight but metabolic unhealthy. This was the topic of a sesscanstockphoto2174868ion I especially looked forward to attending at last month’s American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions.

Metabolic health matters when it comes to cancer. Inflammation and the elevated insulin levels that come with insulin resistance are believed to promote cancer development.

Metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) refers to people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (for someone who is 5’6” tall, weight of at least 186 pounds) yet don’t have the metabolic abnormalities that typically accompany obesity. There’s not yet a standard definition for MHO, but usually a person with MHO has no more than one of the following: diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated blood triglycerides or low HDL cholesterol. Studies generally report from 3 to 20 percent of obese people meet criteria to be classified as metabolically healthy. Continue reading


Study: More Magnesium Links to Lower Insulin Levels

Spinach_canstockphoto0556156Spinach — the dark green leafy source of Popeye’s superhuman strength — is abundant in many nutrients, including magnesium. A new study suggests that diets higher in magnesium are associated with lower blood levels of glucose and insulin, which are often elevated in people with type 2 diabetes.

Research now shows that people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of certain cancers, including kidney, pancreatic and colorectal.

The study was published online last month in The Journal of Nutrition.

Study researchers analyzed data from approximately 53,000 non-diabetic European men and women from 15 studies who were part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) study. The individual studies had collected dietary data through questionnaires, interviews, and/or food diaries along with glucose and insulin levels after participants had not eaten for at least 8 hours. Continue reading