This week it’s impossible to miss the headlines that fructose causes breast and pancreatic cancer. But does this really mean we have to pour our OJ down the drain and compost our dried dates and raisins, vowing never to approach the fruit aisle at the supermarket again?
What all the reporting is leaving out is the reason why fructose is associated with cancer. The simple reason is that sugar isn’t just burned by cells. Sugar also becomes the backbone of DNA.
DNA is composed in part of incredibly long chains of ribose sugar. It’s easier for those cells to make ribose from fructose than it is for them to make it from any other source. However, the process is not automatic.
The conversion of fructose to pentose only occurs when there are also fluctuations in an enzyme called transketolase. This enzyme responds to excess sugar, not necessarily by fructose sugar. It’s not just the presence of fructose that triggers the production of large amounts of ribose. It’s also consuming too many carbs in general. There is a sudden enthusiasm for the more natural cane sugar, or sucrose, but it’s essential to remember that sucrose is a chemical combination of glucose and fructose. You don’t avoid fructose by eating cane sugar.
But what does all this have to do with cancer, anyway?you consume tiny amounts of fructose, you don’t trigger the massive production of ribose in cancer cells.