Dr. Sanjay Gupta: If you limit your sugar you decrease your chances of developing cancer?
Lewis Cantley, PhD: Absolutely.
Cantley, a Harvard professor and the head of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, says when we eat or drink sugar, it causes a sudden spike in the hormone insulin, which can serve as a catalyst to fuel certain types of cancers.
Lewis Cantley: What we're beginning to learn is that insulin can cause adverse effects in the various tissues. And of particular concern is cancer.
Why? Nearly a third of some common cancers -- including breast and colon cancers -- have something called insulin receptors on their surface. Insulin binds to these receptors and signals the tumor to start consuming glucose [which allows it to grow].
Lewis Cantley: Every cell in our body needs glucose to survive. But the trouble is, these cancer cells also use it to grow. So if you happen to have the tumor that has insulin receptors on it then it will get stimulated to take up the glucose that's in the bloodstream rather than go into fat or muscle, the glucose goes into the tumor. And the tumor uses it to grow.
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