Sugar has been implicated in a wide range of diseases, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes. And Americans tend to eat about 20 spoonfuls a day, according to the American Heart Association--more than triple the recommended 6-spoonful amount for women. Now a new study is suggesting that all this sugar can play a role in raising the risk of breast cancer.
Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center looked at the impact of table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup on mice. More than half the mice that ate the sugary diets developed cancerous tumors in their mammary glands (the rodent equivalent of breasts). Only 30 percent of mice that ate mostly starchy foods developed these tumors.
Even more alarming, the sugar seemed to trigger the cancerous cells to spread to the lungs, researchers noted.
Cutting back on sugar isn't as simple as cutting back on obvious sweets like cakes. Sweeteners can lurk in ketchup, bread, non-fat yogurts, even soy sauce. So acting like a detective and reading food labels can be the first step to decreasing your consumption.
Then make some swaps. If you bake, sweeten muffins and breads naturally by adding dried fruit or applesauce. Decrease the sugar by using EXTRA-ripe bananas for your banana bread. Add flavor to one-minute oatmeal with fresh berries and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkling vanilla or cocoa powders to coffee will make it sweeter without the extra calories.
The smartest trick of all? Don't go cold turkey. If you decrease your sugar intake gradually (going from two spoonfuls on your cereal to one to a half over the period of a few weeks), you'll have a better chance of sticking to the plan. The bonus? Plain fruits and even veggies will taste sweeter.