People concerned with protecting themselves from cancer and other chronic diseases should be well aware of the importance of diet and good nutrition. For example, we should all know by now that sugar, and its abuse, can be directly linked to a number of life threatening disorders such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
However, there are different types of sugars. While we may successfully limit our intake of common sucrose (table sugar), we may be unaware of our regular and often unintentional exposure to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). High Fructose Corn Syrup is an alternative sweetening agent that can be found in a wide range of processed foods, and recent research has shown that it may present an even greater risk than common sucrose.
Once considered a healthier alternative to sucrose, HFCS is now being linked to a number of chronic diseases, not the least of which is cancer. Perhaps even more troubling than the inherent health risks of high fructose corn syrup is the fact that its consumption by Americans has risen by more than 100% over the last thirty years.
The Growing HFCS Epidemic
The USDA estimates that the average American consumes more than 65 pounds of high fructose corn syrup each year. That’s a staggering amount, and the numbers continue to rise despite all efforts to curb the nation’s sugar addiction. One of the major problems with HFCS, is that it is absolutely everywhere. Because high fructose corn syrup is so much cheaper than cane sugar, food manufacturers have chosen it as their go to source for a sweetener and general food additive. You may have barred sugar from the family pantry, but HFCS can be found in the most surprising places. Consider the following list of common food stuffs that contain HFCS:
- Soft drinks
- Sport drinks
- Breads and baked goods
- Salad Dressings
- Jams and jellies
- Frozen prepared meals
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Sweet and savory snack items (including chocolates, peanuts, potato crisps, etc)
The list goes on and on, and even many packaged foods that claim to be healthy alternatives are laced with high fructose corn syrup.
HFCS and Cancer
Recent research into the link between high fructose corn syrup and cancer has revealed some startling information. All cells within the body depend on glucose for the energy they need to reproduce. But it would appear that cancer cells can distinguish between natural glucose and fructose, and although it will feed off of any available sugar, when fructose is present it can grow and proliferate more quickly. It appears that cancer cells actually thrive better on fructose, and when available will use it as a primary source of fuel allowing them to reproduce at a greater speed than cells feeding on natural glucose.
HFCS also contains trace amounts of mercury, a recognized carcinogen. When you combine the presence of mercury and the inherent health risks of HFCS with the ravenous appetite cancer cells have for fructose you get an ideal scenario for the growth and proliferation of many different types of cancer. Because cancer cells can more readily metabolize fructose, and will actively choose fructose over glucose as a fuel, there is a greater opportunity for altered cell growth, increased inflammation, DNA damage, and an increased production of free radicals. All of which create the perfect environment for cancer to develop and thrive.
Avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup presents a very real health hazard, and its links to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer are well documented. Because HFCS is so prevalent in the American food supply, it is important for consumers to take active steps to eliminate it from their diet. As we have seen, high fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in most prepackaged food stuffs, so the first step is to eliminate as many processed foods from the family diet as possible. Even the most innocuous of prepackaged foods may contain HFCS, and that includes many of the so called ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’ packaged meals.
Now, more than ever, it is important to build your diet around fresh fruits (avocados being the most important) and vegetables, and to make it a point to prepare your own meals out of the best ingredients available. Only then can you have total control over what you, and your family, are consuming.