While there are many factors that contribute to the incidence of breast cancer, including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and even genetics, one of the often overlooked contributors to inflammatory breast cancer, and cancer in general, is insulin and a diet high in simple sugars. But before we can understand how high insulin levels contribute to the existence of inflammatory breast cancer, we must first understand how insulin works in the body.

The Role of Insulin

Insulin is a fascinating hormone that plays a key role in your body and its production of energy.

a attractive woman pushing away a plate of doughnuts and having fruit instead
group of vegetables on table top: peppers, broccoli, cucmber

Insulin, which is produced in the pancreas, helps your body convert glucose (or sugar) into usable energy that your cells can use to function. Insulin is both circulating in your bloodstream and is stored in your muscles, liver, and fat cells for time when you are fasting and unable to replenish your body with fresh glucose.

When you eat, the insulin from your food enters your bloodstream and begins to circulate; your pancreas then produces insulin and releases it into your bloodstream. The insulin allows the glucose to enter your cells, where it is either converted into energy or stored for later use. Without insulin, your body is unable to convert glucose into energy, and your body is thus deprived of one of its most important sources of energy.

Too Much of a Good Thing

While insulin is a vital hormone in our body and is a key part of our energy process, too much insulin can lead to a condition called insulin resistance, which can in turn develop into Type II Diabetes. However, this is not the only consequence that can arise from too much insulin in the bloodstream.

Foods that are high in sugar not only cause insulin spikes, they also increase the levels of serum-like growth factor (IGF-1), a major cause of tumor growth. Research has shown that IGF-1 actually prevents cell death, a natural process that kills of dysfunctioning cells, and that high insulin and glucose levels increase steroid production associated with tumor growth, leading to common cancers like inflammatory breast cancer.

Recent studies have demonstrated even stronger links between insulin levels, IGF-1, and the presence of breast cancer. In medical studies, women with the highest levels of IFG-1

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circulating in their blood have a 300%+ risk of becoming diagnosed with breast cancer in comparison to women with low levels of IFG-1.

Even once you are diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, research shows that both obesity and excessive levels of blood glucose are both associated with higher rates of mortality. So, the bottom line is that high-sugar and high-simple carbohydrate diets are associated with increased risk of breast cancer, as well as increased mortality rates for those undergoing treatment. So if you or a loved one are diagnosed with breast cancer, speak with a nutritionist today about transitioning to a whole foods diet and providing your body with the tools and nutrients needed for it to function at peak performance.