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LMU 115 – The Not-So-Sweet Truth: Unveiling the Link Between Sugars and Breast Cancer


LMU 115 – The Not-So-Sweet Truth: Unveiling the Link Between Sugars and Breast Cancer

Source: Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (October 2018)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (January 5, 2019)


In the intricate tapestry of health, the relationship between dietary choices and cancer has long captivated researchers. A groundbreaking study published in the esteemed journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment brings us closer to unravelling this enigma. Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina embarked on a quest to explore the impact of high-sugar foods and beverages on breast cancer cells. The findings, both enlightening and concerning, reveal a compelling connection between our dietary indulgences and the behavior of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

The AGE of Discovery: Sugars’ Role in Cancer

As the curtains rise on this research, a term takes center stage—AGE, an acronym for Advanced Glycation End-products. In essence, high blood sugar levels contribute to the formation of these AGE-proteins, coating various proteins within the bloodstream. The repercussions of this process extend far beyond the realm of mere biochemistry. The study sheds light on a disconcerting phenomenon: AGE-proteins, born from the aftermath of indulging in simple sugars, wield a remarkable power over estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

A Molecular Tango: Sugars and Estrogen Receptors

To unearth the intricate dance between sugars and breast cancer cells, researchers undertook a series of experiments. The stage was set with human breast cancer cells classified as estrogen-receptor-positive—an essential marker in breast cancer. The catalyst for this choreography was the introduction of AGE-proteins to these cells. Astonishingly, this interaction yielded a striking revelation—the AGE-proteins triggered the estrogen receptors on these breast cancer cells, fuelling their division and multiplication.

The Drug Tamoxifen: A Story of Inhibition

The storyline took an intriguing twist as the researchers introduced a key player—tamoxifen. This drug, often used to stave off the recurrence of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer, exhibits a unique ability. By binding to estrogen receptors, tamoxifen arrests the division of breast cancer cells. In the initial act of the study, the administration of tamoxifen lived up to its reputation, halting the division of human breast cancer cells.

The AGE Proteins’ Intrusion

However, the narrative took an unexpected turn as AGE-proteins entered the scene. The protective effects of tamoxifen seemed to wane in the presence of these proteins, which overshadowed the drug’s preventive prowess. A disheartening reality emerged—the AGE-proteins negated the protective cloak of tamoxifen, reigniting the division of breast cancer cells.

Implications and Insights: The Path Forward

The implications of this study ripple through the landscape of cancer prevention and management. The connection between dietary practices and cancer development is well-documented, yet the intricate biological mechanisms remain a terrain of exploration. As we peer through the lens of this research, a clear message emerges—an individual’s dietary choices, particularly those high in simple sugars, contribute to the production of AGE-proteins in the bloodstream. This, in turn, casts a shadow over the risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.

Empowering Choices: A Holistic Approach

A ray of hope pierces through this shadow as the study offers insights into mitigation. A human study underscores the power of targeted lifestyle interventions in reducing the presence of AGE-proteins. Obese women with a history of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer charted a transformative journey. A dietary and exercise regimen, rich in choices low in simple sugars and detrimental fats, yielded tangible results. Even foods seared, fried, or grilled—culprits in AGE-protein production—found their place in this comprehensive strategy.

Beyond Breast Cancer: AGE Proteins’ Wider Impact

The pernicious influence of AGE-proteins extends beyond breast cancer. Elevated levels of these proteins in the bloodstream are inextricably linked to an increased risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular ailments, arthritis, macular degeneration, and kidney disorders. The imperative to maintain blood sugar levels within the optimal range emerges as a universal directive, transcending gender and medical history. In this narrative, the avoidance of bad fats and cooking processes that foster AGE-protein production becomes paramount.

Epilogue: A New Chapter in Health

The study heralds a new chapter in our journey toward holistic health. The relationship between sugars and breast cancer cells deepens our understanding of the intricate forces at play within our bodies. As we traverse the landscapes of diet and well-being, let this revelation guide our choices. The narrative is one of empowerment—a testament that our dietary decisions hold the power to shape our well-being, and by extension, our future.


Katherine R. Walter, Marvella E. Ford, Mathew J. Gregoski, Rita M. Kramer, Kendrea D. Knight, Laura Spruill, Lourdes M. Nogueira, Bradley A. Krisanits, Van Phan, Amanda C. La Rue, Michael B. Lilly, Stefan Ambs, King Chan, Tonya F. Turner, Heidi Varner, Shweta Singh, Jaime Uribarri, Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer, Kent E. Armeson, Ebony J. Hilton, Mark J. Clair, Marian H. Taylor, Andrea M. Abbott, Victoria J. Findlay, Lindsay L. Peterson, Gayenell Magwood, David P. Turner. Advanced glycation end products are elevated in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients, alter the response to therapy, and can be targeted by lifestyle intervention. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2018; [Read the study here](

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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