Bad News About Agave Nectar, Honey, and other Concentrated Fructose Sweeteners - August 12, 2010

This is all bad news, so I shall keep it short and not sweet at all. I have previously reported that sugar, especially sucrose (table sugar) and glucose (regular corn syrup) should be strictly avoided by cancer warriors. I further suggested that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) should also be avoided, as it is chemically about the same as table sugar (sucrose is 50/50 glucose and fructose while HFCS ranges from 45/55 to 40/60) while saving your body even the small work of breaking one chemical bond that unites these two simple sugars in sucrose. The reason I gave for this is that intake of these high-glucose sweeteners will spike your blood sugar and super-energize cancer cells by showering them with their favorite food source. Clear, recent, peer-reviewed evidence supports the fact that HFCS is more dangerous than table sugar. Alternatives that I suggested were honey and agave nectar, both forms of fructose (also known as fruit sugar). Some new research from UCLA has indicated that fructose is particularly evil for cancer warriors, even though it does NOT spike blood glucose and is therefore safe for diabetics. The reason is that when the fructose eventually enters a cancer cell, it turns out that the cancer actually PREFERS the fructose for non-oxidative respiration (fermentation), leading to bad side effects like inflammation, uric acid, and healthy/happy cancer cells. While the research article was based only on the particularly nasty pancreatic cancer, it is well known that ALL cancers metabolize sugars in identical fashion.

This is a very unpleasant surprise to those of us who found agave nectar to be a "free pass" to sugar sweetness (and calories) without the risk. So even though Oprah puts agave nectar in her oatmeal (a fact that has driven demand high and promoted widespread availability), cancer is well fed by fructose. My cousin who lives in Mexico, a few miles from the area where most agave nectar is sourced, has also passed on some information that very nasty chemicals are often used in conjunction with making the "nectar," adding to the risk of using it as food. And the amount of fructose naturally occurring in fruit is not large enough to be of concern, but fruit juice (which has the equivalent of way more fruit than you could eat in a sitting) is also a path to high fructose intake. So it looks like Stevia or very limited amounts of organic table sugar, brown sugar, or pure maple syrup are the only alternatives at this point. Honey should be used only in the strictest moderation. Artificial sweeteners? Don't even think about messing with these highly processed chemicals. Safest would be nothing at all.

Please read the comments below this post for some interesting further discussions about fructose and stevia.


Mike said...

Steve, I have been using Stevia since back when you printed the article on sweetners. Thank goodness there is still a sweetner safe to use.
Next judgement for me in October.

A Dived Ref said...

Always full of great though sometimes disturbing information Steve, thank you. I was reading through some of my emails and this jumped out and hit me between the eyes all about Fructose so youumay wish to add to your arsenal of articles
Additionally I followed up on Mike's notes about Stevia - it is banned here in the UK and Europe - to find out why see here

Steve Kelley said...

Thanks, David, for the helpful additions. I pored eagerly over the information found on the stevia link you provided. It seems the EU has banned stevia, not because of the presence of valid data to show it is harmful, but rather the absence of valid data (in their somewhat narrow view) to show it is "safe." In the USA it is permitted as an unregulated food supplement, but forbidden as a food additive in most cases - this prohibition is being slowly lifted as more and more stevia-containing food products clear the hurdles in the USA.

Oddly, the EU allows the distribution and use of cyclamates, an excellent artificial sweetener, which has been banned in the USA for over 40 years. Even though I have some, I no longer use it or any artificial sweetener - simply as a precautionary method to avoid any potential carcinogens.

Canada allows both stevia and cyclamates. So whose nanny-state is the most effective? I suppose that is a matter of personal preference.

I am aware of the mercola site and agree with some of his conclusions. But I find Dr. Mercola's approach to be rife with conflict of interest and his style of fear-mongering to be particularly offensive. Readers beware!

Anonymous said...

Steve, Thanks for your comments, I just want to add that Fructose has never been an option to avoid calories or all the problems generates from regular sugar. Stevia is the better choice by the moment. Nevertheless I Have been in factories in Mexico (Jalisco) that produces Agave Nectar and believe me, in all the process they never use any chemical products .. The juices are extracted in cold press, then filtered, demineralized, evaporated and that´s it... The only advantage of Agave Nectar from other sweeteners is the Low Glycemic index ... Matthew

Anonymous said...

Regarding the material about sweeteners, here are two internet addresses with interesting research papers concerning honey.

Bee honey is an effective agent for inhibiting the growth of T24, RT4, 253J and MBT-2 bladder cancer cell lines in vitro. It is also effective when administered intralesionally or orally in the MBT-2 bladder cancer implantation models. Our results are promising, and further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms of the antitumor activity of honey.

Honey is a natural product that shows potential effects to inhibit or suppress the development and
progression of tumor and cancer. Its antiproliferative, antitumor, antimetastic and anticancer effects are
mediated via diverse mechanisms, including cell cycle arrest, activation of mitochondrial pathway,
induction of mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, induction of apoptosis, modulation of
oxidative stress, amelioration of inflammation, modulation of insulin signaling, and inhibition of
angiogenesis in cancer cells. Honey is highly and selectively cytotoxic against tumor or cancer cells
while it is non-cytotoxic to normal cells. It can inhibit cancerogenesis by modulating or interfering
with the molecular processes or events of initiation, promotion, and progression stages. It, therefore,
can be considered a potential and promising anticancer agent which warrants further research—both in
experimental and clinical studies