Editorial By Jennifer Sierra
One of the worst diagnosis someone can get is cancer. The week before Christmas my best friend found out she has stage 4 breast cancer that has spread to her liver. She has no family history of breast cancer so one has to wonder if this is in fact environmental. There are life choices that are common in the Midwest that seem to put certain women at much higher risk of getting breast cancer even with no family history. My cousin’s wife was also diagnosed with breast cancer this past fall and she has no family history. One of my other friend’s battled breast cancer in 2015 as well. She is a vegetarian and eats organic food. She doesn’t eat dairy either. She has eaten this way most of her adult life. Her issue is that she has the breast cancer gene that she inherited. The one thing all of these ladies have in common is that they are all in their 40’s. While no one should ever get this disease, I think we can all agree the 40’s are way too young to be getting this diagnosis. Something is up!
I was determined to find out what I could about this in an effort to help these people and wrap my mind around the unbelievable news in what seems to be an epidemic. Here is what I found. Refined sugar feeds cancer. In a study by the University of Texas, fructose specifically caused cancer cells metastasize and spread. In a newer MRI test, called glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer, or glucoCEST, tumor cells light up when a patient is injected with glucose. The test uses radio waves from conventional MRIs to determine how quickly sugar is consumed by tumor cells, which need more glucose than healthy cells to survive. Now, I am not saying people shouldn’t consume sugar. The human body needs am certain amount of sugar to live and function optimally. But, excessive consumption of sugar in one’s diet leads to obesity. Obesity is a huge risk factor for cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, obesity also causes girls to menstruate earlier than normal which also increases their risk of breast cancer.
Just because you are drinking Diet Coke or other diet soda’s doesn’t mean you are safe either. Most of the people I know that drink Diet Soda are over weight and have been so for years so the consumption of these drinks hasn’t helped them. They also drink more than 1 a day and often several. Small amounts of aspartame haven’t raised eyebrows but according to the American Cancer Society, “aspartame in large quantities is known to cause cancer in lab rats”. Large quantities in lab rats could equal, what most people think are, reasonable amounts of diet soda.
In another study by John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and published in Health magazine, another carcinogen is the Carmel coloring found in sodas and is especially high in Pepsi products. The state of California now requires warning labels on products containing high levels of specific colorants.
According to cancer.org, other risk factors include oral contraceptives, tobacco use and drinking, citing “Those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who don’t drink alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is also known to increase the risk of developing several other types of cancer.” They also say lack of regular excerise is also a contributing factor.
In the land of plenty, we have access to plenty of bad things both consumable and in the environment. The one thing we can’t access is consistent and reliable information because everything is skewed with the interests of large companies and special interest groups. When can we trust the Food and Drug Administration to protect the citizens of the United States? Until the truth comes out, we must use common sense and be our own patient advocates.
As much as I want to say I discovered new answers, all I found were things I already knew. Many of you already know it too. But maybe this article will reach one person that will see this and it will inspire you to: listen to your gut, drink less soda (diet and regular), eat healthier foods, work out more, drink less alcohol and take better care of yourself. Do it for yourself first, then do it for the people that love you.