4.16.2008

...But I Play One On TV

Full disclosure: despite all my attitude and pontificating to the contrary, I am not a nutritionist. I am a bio major science geek wannabe that has taken a number of nutrition/biochemistry courses (at reputable, accredited universities, thank you).

What I don't have is a degree in nutrition, much less my RD (A year unpaid internship? I'm waaaay too old and have too little patience for that noise).

Still, I know just enough about nutrition to be dangerous and have numerous contacts who make their living/stake their professional reputation on their nutrition science smarts.

I'm also surly, grouchy, contrary, contentious, trapped on the couch, and armed with a laptop and wifi connection.

Now that I've painted you a picture, I thought I should mention that I've been playing my self-assigned role of shit-starter over at the blog of the alternative cancer therapy guru, Crazy Sexy Cancer, specifically on this and this post.

The posts of late--by an MD guest blogger--have been covering the issue of how "sugar feeds cancer" and how too much glucose circulating in the blood can compete with vitamin C for transport into cells, making them less effective from an immune function perspective.

I consulted the PhD that taught my Vitamins course here at UW Madison (site of the discovery of vitamins A & D, mind you), and she supported my position that the glucose/vitamin C/cancer connection sounded a little...well, iffy (she used a bit stronger language).

I'm not saying that sugar is tops (even though it TOTALLY is), eating nutrient dense/calorie poor food that is close to the earth--ie as close to its original form as possible and as low on the food chain as you can tolerate--is the lynchpin of good nutrition and one of the pillars of good health, in my dangerously semi-educated mind. And repeatedly spiking your insulin over a long period of time with unnatural, processed, refined, sugary junk is Bad Idea Jeans for a number of health reasons.

BUT. In my oh so humble opinion, to say that people living with cancer should avoid eating fruit (ignoring the relationship of glycemic load to glycemic index, I can't vouch for its accuracy, but here's an example GI table) is bad advice at best, irresponsible science at worst.

7 comments:

Jeanine said...

I am not one either - although I do a lot of research in nutrition and cancer. So you are right on and keep speaking up!!!! It bothers me when people state things as FACT when there is no research to back up the supposed FACTS......it is just like when people forward "health news" that has no basis in fact either. Thanks for bringing up load vs index - and it is important to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Anonymous said...

I'm also quite leery of the cancer/fruit prohibition, but, then again, I'm a cancer-survivor-sugar-addict!

Here's one thing that stumps me, though. Ever had a pet scan? What's up with the cancer cells gobbling up the radioactive glucose? This interesting little phenom causes me to say that my personal jury is out on the cancer/sugar connection.

Sugarmouth O'Riordan said...

J9--I knew you'd have my back.

Anon--I hope I did not misspeak here or over on CSC: I totally embrace the truth that cancer cells are more metabolically active (read: consume more glucose) than normal cells, hence why PET scans work the way they do.

As I understand it, one of the ways chemo works is that it disrupts the ability of fast-growing cells to replicate (or grow? I am drawing a blank). I saw the external evidence of my internal slowdown during my chemoradiation when my nails stopped growing and a cut that would usual heal in under a week took nearly a month to close.

My only argument with the "sugar fees cancer" issue is that there's no way to keep the glucose away from cancer cells. It's everywhere because it HAS to be.

I also readily concede that jerking your insulin around with sugary junk food is "throwing gas on the fire" BUT (at the risk of repeating myself) to say that ALL sugar--including the naturally occurring goodness in fruits and some vegetables--is bad is just...ill advised.

If scientists could figure a way to build an insulin-proof wall around a cancer tumor, they would eventually starve to death. But until that happens, we're kinda stuck.

Jeanine said...

I do believe in the glucose-cancer hypothesis. I am stating that I don't believe in stopping to eat fruit because of the glucose-cancer hypothesis. A number of studies have been done on sugar intake (particularly refined sugars), glycemic index and load, diabetes status and cancer risk and it appears that these factors may increase your risk of certain types of cancer. I don't believe any studies have conclusively shown that fruit intake increases risk of cancer - especially through the glucose hypothesis.

We also have to remember that all cell use glucose. A Pet scan is determining areas in your body where there is much higher levels of glucose metabolism.

So I was just stating that people should make good choices with regards to their diet: eating whole grains (brown rice, brown pasta), vegetables and fruit not only for cancer prevention but also because it has been shown to be beneficial in preventing a number of other diseases - heart disease, diabetes, etc.

Sugarmouth O'Riordan said...

Isn't it funny how some smart friends can make you feel dumb, and others make you feel smart? You're in the latter camp, Neaner. ;)

Someone at CSC pointed to a recent discovery over @ Duke. As I said over on that site, I didn't want to be all "show me the science!!" but seriously, SHOW ME. And they did!

Now I have to go read up on Akt... ;)

Cap-o-thesaurus said...

You omitted "cantankerous" from your fourth paragraph.

(Just keepin' it real.)

Sugarmouth O'Riordan said...

I can tank *yer* ass, Cappy. ;)