October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Raising awareness is essential as breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women and the second leading cause of death from cancer among women. Avoiding certain risk factors, such as high-sugar diets, can help lower the risk of developing it.Susan G. Komen


Annie dashed through the door of Cassie’s recording studio. Deciding to bring the podcaster breakfast at the last moment made her late.

“Sorry, I’m late, Cassie. In recognition of our topic today, I stopped to make you this Avocado and Smoothie, which also includes spinach. All the ingredients provide nutrition and antioxidants that may help breast cancer prevention and support recovery. Let me know if you like it.”

“Sure, and thanks so much, Annie. By the way, you’re actually not late. We have a few minutes before show time, which is all I need to enjoy this smoothie. I’m so glad to have you on today to specifically discuss if there is a correlation between sugar consumption and an increase in breast cancer.”

“I always appreciate your podcast invitations and the opportunity to discuss this important public health issue with you and your listeners.”

“You are one of our most popular guests,” said Cassie as she finished the smoothie. “This was delicious. Ready to get started?”

Annie nodded. Cassie flipped on her headphones and leaned into the microphone. “Welcome, listeners. Today, we are again conversing with Annie, our resident food-as-medicine expert. Today’s topic is in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Let’s start with an update on the fight against breast cancer. Annie, what can you tell us about the current statistics on breast cancer among racial groups?”

“Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2020 data, the incidence of breast cancer is:

  • White women are 125.3 per 100,000.
  • Black women are 119.6 cases per 100,000.
  • Native American or Alaska Native women, the incidence rate is 91.6 per 100,000.
  • Asian and Pacific Islanders, the incidence rate is 94.3 per 100,000.
  • Hispanic women, the rate is 88.2 per 100,000.

However, the CDC recommends using caution when siting these statistics, noting the COVID pandemic may be responsible for under reporting during 2020.”

Cassie nodded, “duly noted. And are there any rates we should know regarding diabetes and obesity among racial groups?

“Yes. “According to the CDC, diabetes affects:

  • Blacks: 16.4% (male: 16.8%, female: 16.0%)
  • Hispanics: 14.7% (male: 15.4%, female: 14.0%)
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives: 14.5% (male: 14.7%, female: 14.3%)
  • Asians: 14.9% (male: 15.2%, female: 14.6%)
  • Non-Hispanic Whites: 11.9% (male: 12.4%, female: 11.4%)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states obesity affects:

  • Blacks: 39.8% (male: 36.9%, female: 42.4%)
  • Hispanics: 33.8% (male: 36.6%, female: 31.0%)
  • Non-Hispanic White: 29.9% (male: 31.1%, female: 28.7%)
  • Asian: 12.5% (male: 11.1%, female: 13.9%)”

“My next question for you, Annie, comes from a listener. What is the correlation between the amount of sugar in the American diet and the increase in specific cancers, including breast cancer?”

“That is such an important question because there is a lot of confusing information out there about how or even if sugar causes cancer. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that provides energy for the body, but it may also have some harmful effects on breast cancer. Some studies have shown that sugar can increase the risk and progression of this type of cancer by affecting hormone levels, insulin levels, and inflammation. Here is how sugar can fuel breast cancer from reliable sources:


  • Sugar does not directly cause cancer or make it grow faster, but it can contribute to increased body weight and fat, raising estrogen levels in the body. Estrogen is a hormone that can stimulate the growth of some types of breast cancer cells.
  • Sugar also affects insulin levels and insulin-like growth factors in the blood, which can stimulate the growth of tumors. Cancer cells have more insulin receptors than normal cells, making them more responsive to insulin’s effects.
  • Sugar can also cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, damaging DNA and increasing the risk of mutations that lead to cancer.
  • Sugar provides no other nutrients besides calories, so limiting the intake of added sugars to only 10% of total calories is recommended. This can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent diabetes and heart disease, which are also linked to cancer risk.
  • Added Sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates can be found in many foods, such as sodas, candies, desserts, white bread, and white rice. It is important to choose foods with more nutritional value, such as whole fruits instead of fruit juices, whole grains instead of refined grains, and low-fat dairy products instead of sweetened.

Annie continued, “Research has linked the number of added sugars in an individual’s diet to an increased risk for breast cancer recurrence. Specifically, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, a 10 percent increase in the consumption of added sugars can lead to an increase of 12 percent in post-menopausal breast cancer recurrence.”

Cassie paused and spoke slowly. “Do you have any further comments or words of advice?”

“Yes. We need to be mindful of the amount of sugar we consume and how we can get the necessary energy from foods with higher nutritional value and fewer added sugars. Eating healthily, staying physically active, avoiding an unhealthy body weight, strictly limiting alcohol consumption, and getting regular screenings can reduce your risk for breast cancer and many other health conditions.”

“Well, thank you, Annie, for your valuable insights and for joining us on the Cassie Podcast!”

“Thank you so much for having me.”


Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

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