Should Cancer Patients Avoid Added Sugars?

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Topics include: Living Well and Understanding

Sugar is made out to be the bad guy in its narrative with cancer, and there is some rigid advice out there to eliminate it entirely, but what type of sugar should patients watch out for? How can multiple myeloma patients incorporate sugar into their diet in a safe and enjoyable way? Wellness expert, Julie Lanford from CancerDietitian.com, explains the different forms of sugar and how the body processes it, and shares what patients can do to develop a healthy relationship with sugar. Julie also discusses which blood levels to keep in mind before consuming sugar. Watch now for tips to eat and live well with myeloma.

Produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene, Takeda, Amgen and AbbVie for their support.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:         

How does sugar affect myeloma or any of these cancers? Is sugar a no-no? Do we have to limit our sugar?

Julie Lanford:             

Well, I guess it depends on where you're starting from. That is the top question that I probably get from my clients, is about sugar. The first thing to know is that certainly, there's differences in different types of sugar.

Usually, when people hear the term sugar, I think they're thinking simple carbohydrates or simple sugars. Like Danny was mentioning, there's a difference between simple sugars and complex carbohydrates.

If we're talking about simple sugars like you would find in sweet tea, or sodas, or desserts, those kinds of things, we don't want you to have too much of it. There's certainly room in a healthy diet to enjoy food, and to have, even, things like ice cream or cake on occasion.

Again, what I would recommend, first off, is to avoid the sugary drinks except on very rare occasions. I wouldn't drink a green tea with tons of sugar in it. I would not do on a regular basis.

Sodas, I would not do on a regular basis. Then, sweets, you kind of have to take a personal audit in terms of, "Well, how often am I eating sweets? Am I eating them every single day? When I have a bowl of ice cream, is it one scoop with apples or bananas, or is it four scoops?"

When it comes to sugar, the other piece is what Danny mentioned about your blood sugar levels. Are you in a place where you need to pay attention to the glycemic load, and…

Andrew Schorr:         

…like with the steroids, mm-hmm.

Julie Lanford:             

Yes, especially like he was mentioning, those days if you're on the steroids, where your blood sugars are likely to kind of be at already a high level, and you could push it really high.

Those are all very specific, but it's wise, I would say, to have small portions of desserts when you have them, and to have them not every day, and then stay away from the sugary drinks. Find things to enjoy that don't have added sugars.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on April 5, 2018