Life Extension Magazine®

Excess sugar increase blood sugar levels in Americans

Blood Sugar Levels Surge to Record Highs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 1 in 3 American adults have blood sugar levels that are too high. This not only leads to diabetes but also various forms of cancer. Readers are encouraged to have proper blood tests and take corrective actions if glycemic markers are not in optimal safe ranges.

Scientifically reviewed by Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: William Faloon.

William Faloon
William Faloon

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that more than 1 in 3 American adults have blood sugar levels that are too high.1

The condition they are referring to is prediabetes. It occurs when blood sugar markers are elevated, but have not yet reached the diabetic threshold.

Last year, UCLA researchers reported that 46% of California adults are either prediabetic or have un diagnosed type II diabetes.2 The severity of this health crisis cannot be overstated.

Diabetic pathologies develop during the prediabetic phase.3 So by the time type II diabetes manifests, patients already confront complications that include kidney impairment,4,5 vision loss,6-8 neuropathy,9 atherosclerosis,10-12 and cancer.13-15

Despite these risks, populations around the world increasingly gorge on deadly foods/drinks that spike blood sugar levels. Not only does this increase disease risk, it accelerates aging by shortening telomeres.16,17

We at Life Extension® have warned of this catastrophic epidemic since the early 1980s. Back in those days, what authorities now recognize as dangerously high glucose levels were considered safe by the medical mainstream.

An abundance of published findings support our recommendation to keep blood sugar at the low end of the normal reference range.18-21

Despite these conclusive data, the medical community has failed to wake up to the life-shortening impact of prediabetes. It is thus up to individuals to take charge and make the appropriate adjustments.

There are a variety of methods to maintain healthier glucose levels. It all begins with proper blood testing.

Standard blood tests often miss identifying early-stage prediabetes and diabetes. That’s because the last marker to elevate in patients with poor glycemic control is often fasting glucose.

The reason for this is that blood sugar problems in the early stages can be covered up by excess secretion of insulin from the pancreas.

As long as there is a reasonable degree of cellular insulin sensitivity and loads of insulin being produced, a fasting glucose blood test may appear in a safe range, which by today’s standards is under 100 mg/dL.

What few understand is that excess insulin contributes to disease states even before fasting glucose raises to prediabetic levels. Doctors suspect prediabetes when fasting glucose is in the range of 100 to 125 mg/dL.

Life Extension vehemently disagrees with conventional medicine and advocates people strive to achieve fasting glucose below 86 mg/dL. We know this is not always possible, but we want our readers to know what optimal glucose levels are based on science as opposed to obsolete “reference ranges.

Diabetes Cases by Age Group

More Accurate Blood Test

More Accurate Blood Test  

The hemoglobin A1c blood test provides a better picture of glycemic control than fasting glucose.22 It is the standard used by doctors to ascertain the efficacy of various treatments for type II diabetes, but it is underutilized in identifying prediabetes.

The safe upper limit for hemoglobin A1c is 5.6%, though lower ranges have been shown to be healthier.23

The American Diabetes Association says if your hemoglobin A1c is 5.7%-6.4%, you have prediabetes.24 This nonprofit group recommends metformin for prevention of type II diabetes in people with hemoglobin A1c levels of 5.7%-6.4%.25

Metformin enhances insulin sensitivity and functions via several mechanisms to improve glycemic control.26-30 The ability of metformin to delay or prevent onset of diabetes has been proven in large, well-designed, randomized clinical trials.31-35

Yet recent surveys reveal a shocking shortfall in the prescribing of metformin. Studies published in 2015 show that metformin was only prescribed to 3.7% to 8.1% of prediabetics.35-37

I hope you can relate to my outrage over this! We at Life Extension have urged healthy individuals to boost cellular AMPK activity to protect against degenerative aging. We listed metformin (which activates AMPK) as an anti-aging drug beginning in 1995.

The fact that more than 90% of prediabetics are not prescribed metformin represents medical malpractice in our opinion. It provides a stark example of why health-conscious people need to take matters into their own hands, order their own blood tests, and embark on a glycemic control program if need be, in coordination with a progressive physician.

Deadly Impact of Prediabetes

Even modestly elevated glucose levels inflict microvascular damage that resembles the long-term complications of type II diabetes.38,39

Excess glucose converts in the body to triglycerides that are stored as fat and contribute to atherosclerosis.40-42

A myriad of published studies shows that even high normal blood sugar levels increase risk of degenerative disorders.4-15,20,43-51

Researchers have been startled by data showing higher rates of diseases that were not previously associated with glucose, such as dementia and cancer.52-55

Those with glucose above 85 mg/dL are at increased risk of heart attack.18 This was shown in a study of nearly 2,000 men where fasting blood glucose levels were measured over a 22-year period. The results showed that men with fasting glucose over 85 mg/dL had a 40% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. These researchers stated:

“Fasting blood glucose values in the upper normal range appears to be an important independent predictor of cardiovascular death in nondiabetic apparently healthy middle-aged men.”18

As described in last month’s issue, after-meal glucose levels are an even stronger predictor of disease risk.56-58 This is why we advocate that most people now consider having their blood drawn after a normal meal.

Prediabetes Should Be Classified as Diabetes

Prediabetes Should Be Classified as Diabetes  

The term prediabetes is both an accurate and misleading term.

About 70% of prediabetics will develop type II diabetes in their lifetime.59,60 So if one wants to construe prediabetes as a state that exists before type II diabetes is diagnosed, that is accurate.

What is misleading is thinking that prediabetes means before diabetic damage is inflicted. Quite the opposite is true. During the prediabetic period, tremendous microvascular injury occurs that can lead to kidney failure,61,62 blindness,6-8 stroke,63 and heart disease.19,20,49

We at Life Extension have long argued that any level of excess glucose predisposes to greater disease risk and therefore should be classified as type II diabetes.

When human lifespans were shorter, our opposition argued that aging people with slightly elevated blood glucose were likely to perish from some other cause. That was a false assumption back then and certainly not true today when age reversal technology is being aggressively pursued.

A vivid example of why there may be no difference in prediabetes versus type II diabetes can be seen in a study involving 1,800 people over a 10-year period.49 This study found that coronary heart disease risk was similar between prediabetics and type II diabetics. The authors commented that impaired fasting glucose significantly increased coronary risk in comparison with the normal glucose group. The researchers concluded:

“Early control of blood glucose is essential to prevention and control of CHD [coronary heart disease].”49

One advantage of detecting prediabetes early is there is a greater likelihood of reversing it before it progresses to type II diabetes. Until physicians start taking the lead in aggressively treating even high normal glucose levels, large numbers of aging Americans will prematurely suffer horrific degenerative conditions from blood sugar levels that could have been prevented.

Doctors should not wait until fasting glucose exceeds 125 mg/dL or hemoglobin A1c reaches 6.5% before initiating treatment. They should in fact initiate glucose-lowering approaches whenever fasting glucose exceeds 85 mg/dL or hemoglobin A1c exceeds 5.5%.

Glucose Levels in Calorie Restrictors
Glucose Levels in Calorie Restrictors

Calorie restriction remains an important standard by which longevity factors can be measured.79-82

Those who practice calorie restriction often achieve very low blood glucose levels.83-85

In a study group of people who drastically reduced their food intake, fasting glucose declined to an average of 74 mg/dL.83

This corresponds to animal studies in which caloric restriction induced significant reductions in blood glucose in conjunction with dramatic increases in lifespan.86-88

These studies provide a strong incentive to keep glucose in the low normal range.

Lung Cancer and Sugar

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death, and you don’t have to smoke to contract it.64 Cure rates remain abysmally low, though newer immune-modulating drugs are enabling some patients to survive longer.65

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center analyzed the dietary habits and health history of over 4,000 people. They found overall that those who ingested a high glycemic diet had 49% increased odds of having lung cancer regardless of smoking habits compared to those with the lowest glycemic diet.66

For nonsmokers in this study, the odds of having lung cancer were more than double in those who ingested a high glycemic index diet compared to those with the lowest glycemic index diet. Foods that rank high on the glycemic scale include starches like white bread and rice along with any sugar/starch laden food/drink that spikes after-meal glucose levels.

Up to 25% of people who contract lung cancer don’t smoke.67,68 Many of these individuals would never touch a cigarette because of cancer risk, yet don’t know that high blood glucose is also a major risk factor.

Glucose provides fuel for rapidly dividing cancer cells, while insulin is a hormonal stimulator for cellular proliferation.69-73 Those who consume high glycemic diets sharply increase their odds of contracting many forms of cancer,74-76 yet the public remains largely unaware.

Normal Blood Sugar Levels Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Life Extension researchers conducted an analysis of the scientific literature to ascertain if there was a connection between higher “normal” blood glucose and breast cancer risk. Our analysis revealed compelling data suggesting increased breast cancer risk amongst women with so-called “normal” blood glucose levels.

One study found that premenopausal women with fasting blood sugar above 84 mg/dL had more than two-times the risk of developing breast cancer compared to those with lower levels.44

Another study compared women with a fasting glucose under 100 mg/dL with those whose blood glucose was between 100-125 mg/dL. Women with the higher glucose readings had a 23% increased risk of breast cancer after multivariate analysis.77

A study of over 10,000 women in Italy found those in the highest glucose quartile (median 96 mg/dL) had a 63% increased risk for breast cancer compared to those in the lowest quartile (median 73 mg/dL) after being “fully adjusted” for multiple variables. The authors stated in the discussion:

“…we found that elevated fasting glucose levels were significantly associated with subsequent occurrence of BC [breast cancer]. The association was significant both in pre and postmenopausal women.”78

Note that studies showing the greatest increase in breast cancer risk occur when glucose levels exceed midrange normal levels. These consistent findings are published in medical journals, yet most practicing physicians do not treat blood sugar until readings exceed 125 mg/dL!

For breast cancer risk reduction, keep glucose at the lowest normal range that appears optimal.

High Glucose Shrinks Your Brain!
High Glucose Shrinks Your Brain!

More than 1 in 3 adults have glucose levels that put them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.49,91-93

Recent findings show blood glucose at the high end of normal resulted in significant brain shrinkage, particularly in the regions of the brain (hippocampus and amygdala) involved in memory and other critical functions.94

Reducing ingestion of simple sugars and starches helps control blood sugar levels.

The key to optimal glucose control is to cut back on calories, increase physical activities, and utilize nutrients/drugs that inhibit absorption of ingested carbohydrates, suppress glucose production in the liver, and improve glucose utilization in tissues via enhanced insulin sensitivity.

Know Your Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c

The amount of sugars and starches consumed in the modern world exceeds the body’s capacity to utilize the excess blood glucose they produce. As people age, their glycemic regulatory controls often fail. Surveys reveal many adults suffer dangerously high glucose levels.89,90

Readers of this magazine take nutrients that help lower glycemic markers and protect against glucose-induced toxicities.

It is imperative, however, that health conscious individuals have proper blood tests to ensure they are not anywhere close to a prediabetic state. While some in the mainstream are finally treating patients with glucose between 100-125 mg/dL (prediabetic), we at Life Extension continue to urge far lower glucose levels for optimal health and longevity.

Once a year we offer a comprehensive panel of blood tests at the discounted price of $199. Commercial labs charge higher prices and oftenfail to include blood biomarkers such as C-reactive protein, homocysteine, hemoglobin A1c, lipids, and hormones that all represent manageable longevity factors.

I hope you will have these blood tests performed to enable risk factors to be reversed before it results in permanent illness.

Turn this page to see the many blood tests included in the popular Male and Female Panels.

For longer life,

For Longer Life

William Faloon


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