The group of conditions known as cancer is the largest single recipient of fundraising in the UK today. It’s hardly surprising why as the disease does not discriminate – young, old, men, women, all races, backgrounds and lifestyles are susceptible. In understanding how an unhealthy lifestyle can increasing one’s risk of cancer, Cancer Research UK is encouraging people to reduce their sugar intake for one month.
About Sugar-Free February
This is CRUK’s first annual event encouraging people to give up sugar for February. A natural follow-up for Dry January where people were encouraged to give up alcohol for a month, CRUK hopes that this will catch on just as quickly and easily in a month where Lent traditionally begins (depending on the year and the dates of Easter). By reducing the amount of sugar you eat, you can become much more aware of your intake and adjust accordingly.
There has been some concern about the amount of sugar we consume. It’s not just the sugar in cakes and sweets, but hidden sugars too. Some campaigners say that like salt in the last few decades, food manufacturers are adding too much sugar to food we perceive to be healthy – cereals, yoghurts, bread and juice-based drinks in particular. Consumers perceive some of this as healthy food, particularly those marketed at children.
Is There a Sugar-Cancer Link?
The problems of eating too much sugar are well-known; it can lead to obesity and diabetes, to rotting teeth and a host of other medical problems. According to research, there is also a cancer risk. Present statistics say that one in every six patients with elevated blood sugar has a greater chance of developing cancer. The 10-year study looked at a variety of groups; it found this striking data, but the report authors urged caution – high sugar levels and cancer are also strongly linked to other lifestyle issues such as lack of exercise, too much fatty food, not enough quality nutrients and smoking.
The data showed that with each increment in blood glucose level in both men and women, there was a corresponding 5% increased cancer risk and a 15% increased risk of a fatal case of cancer.
Simple Sugar Reduction Tips
Although it is impossible to eliminate sugar from your diet (we need it and almost everything we eat has it in), there are steps you can take to limit sugar intake.
- Drink water instead of sugary fizzy drinks. Have your tea and coffee without sugar, or use artificial sweetener instead
- Drink smoothies instead of “juice drinks” that are not pure juice and contain lots of additional sugars and other alternatives
- Replace your sugary cereals with non-sugared varieties such as muesli and porridge
- Replace chocolate and sweets with nuts and fruit
- Replace flavoured yoghurt with natural yoghurt
Although some of these foodstuffs have sugar (fruit especially) they are better for you because of the other nutrients that the things you are replacing them with do not have.
How Can You Help?
Although we are already a week into February, it’s never too late to start raising funds for a sponsored sugar-free period. CRUK has lots of information on their website to help you get started including downloadable sheets with tips and suggestions. You will feel better and more energetic for reducing your sugar intake and you will even lose some weight in the process.
Another option you have is to start your sugar-free period at lent. This year it starts on Wednesday 1st March, the end of February. Although the CRUK sugar-free campaign period will be over by then, there is nothing to stop you bringing your own sugar-free period into line with the most famous period that Christians make a sacrifice.