Insulin Resistance Sets the Stage for Cancer

Scientists are coming to recognize the link between elevated blood sugar and an increased risk of cancer. There is a well-documented relationship between obesity, which often correlates with high blood sugar levels, and an increased risk of death of all causes. According to a 2013 study, almost one in five deaths in the United States is associated with obesity.

More recent research completed across four continents shows excess body weight is culpable in one of five premature deaths in the United States, and one in seven in Europe. Overall, being overweight can reduce your life expectancy by approximately one year, and being moderately obese can cost you three years. People of normal weight had the longest life expectancy and were the least likely to die prior to age 70.

Connect these mortality statistics with sugar consumption, and the financial burden becomes obvious. Credit Suisse Research Institute published a study in 2013, called Sugar: Consumption at a Crossroads. They report as much as 40 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures can be directly attributed to diseases caused by over-consumption of sugar, including obesity, diabetes and cancer.

There are a number of ways elevated blood sugar, insulin resistance and obesity promote cancer. One of these mechanisms is by creating mitochondrial dysfunction. Sugar is not the best fuel for your body. Scientists say it “burns dirty,” resulting in more reactive oxygen species (ROS) than does fat, when metabolized. This generates a high level of free radicals, which cause damage to the mitochondria and nuclear DNA, and cell membrane and protein impairment.

There is often a general assumption that nuclear genetic defects cause cancer. In actuality, cell damage happens first, which in turn triggers nuclear genetic mutations.

Chronic overeating in general affects the body in a similar way, placing stress on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which is the membrane found inside the cells’ mitochrondria. When the ER is inundated with more nutrients than it can process, it triggers a process that reduces the sensitivity of the insulin receptors located on the surface of the cell.

Continuously overeating, and excess sugar consumption, promote insulin resistance, simply because your cells are stressed. Insulin resistance, in turn, underlies most chronic diseases, including cancer.