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Revealing the Sugar Cancer Connection

The sugar cancer connection has been a topic of interest and concern. Some theories suggest that excessive sugar intake may fuel cancer growth, while others argue that the relationship is more complex. “Does sugar feed cancer?” We will explore the current scientific findings and insights, shedding light on the potential impact of sugar on cancer development.

A moth is attracted to bright light, which can be its own demise if the bright light is a flame. Two hundred years ago Americans consumed about 2 pounds/year of sugar. Today that number is 150 pounds of refined sugar per year, mostly in the form of sucrose (white sugar) and corn syrup. 1 Our incidence of obesity, diabetes, and many cancers has escalated parallel to our rise in sugar intake. We consume 15 billion gallons of soft drinks, 2.7 billion Krispy Cremes, and 500 million Twinkies per year. IHOP alone serves more than 700 million pancakes per year. Our appetite for sugar is like a hummingbird sucking on sweet food all day long. Problem is, we are not exercising like a hummingbird.

Sweet Tooth, Sweet Foods: The Sugar Cancer Connection?

A special region of our tongue is exclusively reserved for finding and appreciating sweet foods. This makes good sense. Sweet foods are more likely to have carbohydrates for nourishment and less likely to be poisonous, such as some bitter plants. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were hard pressed to find sweet foods, and thus their bodies were forced to make glucose out of proteins in the body. However, once mankind developed the technology for growing and concentrating refined sugars in unimaginable levels, that sweet tooth of ours has become our enemy within. That sweet tooth leads us on to greater and greater heights of sugar intake like a moth drawn to a flame.

PET scan maps tumors via rad.label GLUCOSE
FDG (fluorodeoxy-glucose)

Cancer cells demonstrate a 3-5 fold increase in glucose uptake compared to healthy cells.
Cancer Research, vol.42, p.756S, Feb.1982
Malignant cells produce up to 30 times more lactic acid than normal counterparts.
Med.Hypotheses, vol.40, p.235, 1993

1. Control blood glucose through diet, intermittent fasting, supplements, exercise, stress reduction, medication.
2. Use of insulin? to lower blood glucose or increase cancer cell permeability to chemotherapy. Insulin Poten.Therapy
3. Elevate blood glucose (IV dextrose) to 400 mg%, then use hyperthermia, chemo, rad tx: Systemic Ca Multi-Step Tx
4. High dose glucose IV potentiates anti-neoplastic tx.
5.Hydrazine sulfate inhibits PEP-CK

Does Sugar Feed Cancer

“Our way of life is related to our way of death.”
Framingham Study, Harvard University

Sugar Cells Ferment Glucose Anaerobically

Sugar Feeds Cancer – Nobel Prize
Nobel laureate (1931 Medicine) Otto Warburg, MD, PhD, first discovered that cancer cells have a fundamental difference in energy metabolism 2 compared to healthy undifferentiated cells. 3 Cancer cells ferment glucose anaerobically. 4 Since Warburg’s pivotal study published in Science in 1956, many other researchers have corroborated his conclusions.

does sugar feed cancer

“A frequent characteristic of many malignant tumors is an increase in anaerobic glycolysis, that is the conversion of glucose to lactate, when compared to normal tissues.”

Scientific Collaborations: Sugar Does Feed Cancer Cells

“The high rate of glucose consumption by malignant cells, their heavy dependence on the inefficient glycolytic mode for energy production, their increased energy expenditures, and the susceptibility to carbohydrate deprivation prompted several attempts to exploit the tumoricidal potential of manipulations interfering with carbohydrate and/or energy metabolism, hoping that such interventions could preferentially impair the malignant cells.” 5

“In normoglycemic hosts the in vivo consumption of glucose by neoplastic tissues was found to be very high. Cerebral tissue is reported to use from 0.23 to 0.57 gm of glucose per hour per 100 gm wet brain and rates as one of the highest consumers among the normal tissues. However, hepatomas and fibrosarcomas consumed roughly as much glucose as the brain does and carcinomas about twice as much.” 6

“The glucose utilization rate in neoplastic tissues, unlike in host tissues, is high. Glucose, in fact, is the preferred energy substrate, utilized mainly via the anaerobic glycolytic pathway. The large amount of lactate produced by this process is then transported to the liver where it is converted to glucose, thus contributing to further increase host’s energy wasting.” 7

Shedding Light on the Sugar Cancer Connection

Obesity to Insulin Resistance – Questioning the Sugar Cancer Connection

“Our laboratory has been interested in the metabolic derangements of cancer, particularly lactate overproduction, in view of our work linking lactate over-production in obesity to insulin resistance…Thus, in all four studies listed above, lactate levels were 27-83% higher in cancer patients than in related controls.” 8

How Cancer Relies on Sugar for Energy

Since cancer cells use glucose through anaerobic fermentation, then lactic acid must accumulate as the inefficient by-product of energy metabolism. Human tumors were implanted in rats, which were then given IV solutions of glucose. pH in the tumor tissue was reduced to an average of 6.43, given the logarithmic scale of hydrogen ions in pH measurement, “This pH value corresponds to a ten-fold increase in H+ ion activity in tumor tissue as compared to arterial blood.” 9 By lowering pH in tumor cells, we can effectively create a selective systemic therapy which will kill cancer cells and not healthy tissue.

“After IV glucose, tumor acidification occurred in 9 out of 10 patients…Larger tumors tended to exhibit a greater decrease in pH…We conclude that IV and IV + oral glucose administration are equally effective at inducing tumor acute acidification.” 10

Understanding the Impact of Elevated Blood Glucose on Immune Functions

Ten healthy human volunteers were assessed for fasting blood glucose levels and tumor engulfing ability of neutrophils. “Oral 100 gm portions of carbohydrates from glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, or orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria as measured by the slide technique. Starch ingestion did not have this effect.” 11

“Insulin is a major anabolic hormone in mammals and its involvement in malignancies is well documented.” 12

Diabetics have a much higher risk for cancer. 13

Epidemiological Evidence. “Risk associated with the intake of sugars, independent of other energy sources, is more than doubled [for biliary tract cancer]”. 14 “In older women, a strong correlation was found between breast cancer mortality and sugar consumption…” 15

Simple Ways to Reverse Diabetes: A Path to Better Health

Scientists Embrace Sugar Feeds Cancer Connection

In most major cancer hospitals around the world, oncologists use a $2 million device, called a PET scan (positron emission tomography), which detects cancer by finding hot spots of sugar feeding cells in the body. All of these world-class scientists are using the same principle: sugar does feed cancer. When we can lower blood glucose, we can slow cancer growth.

Professor Seyfried of Boston College and Yale University has written a medical textbook showing the strong link between cancer and glucose: CANCER AS A METABOLIC DISEASE.

Does Sugar Feed Cancer


  • Simple sugars,notstarches,impairedneutrophil phagocytosis.
    Sanchez, A., et al., American Journal Clinical Nutrition, vol.26, p.180, 1973
  • Comparing 50 colorectal cancer patients to healthy controls, cancer patients ate more sugar and fat than the healthy people.
    Bristol, JB, et al., Proceedings American Association of Cancer Research, vol.26, p.206, Mar.1985
  • In a 40 country epidemiological study, sugar consumption predicts (0.73 correl) breast cancer.
    Hems, G., Br.J.Cancer, vol.37, p.974, 1978
  • Animals were fed isocaloric diets of sugar or starch carbohydrates. The group eating more sugar developed significantly more mammary tumors than the starch-fed group.
    Hoehn, SK, et al., Nutrition & Cancer, vol.1, no.3, p.27, Spring 1979
  • Animals w.implantedbreast cancer survived longest with diet that lowered blood glucose.
    Santisteban, Biochem.& BiophysRes. Comm., vol.132, no.3, p.1174, 1985
  • Insulin is a major anabolic hormone in mammals and its involvement in malignancies is well documented.
    Yam, D., Med.Hypotheses, vol.38, p.111, 1992

Tumors are primarily obligate glucose metabolizers, meaning “sugar feeders”. 16 The average American consumes 20% of calories from refined white sugar, which is more of a drug than a food. We also manifest poor glucose tolerance due to stress, obesity, low chromium and fiber intake, and sedentary lifestyles. Blood glucose is basically there to feed the brain and other glucose-dependent organs, while also supplying fuel for muscle movement.

When we sit all day, the sugar in our blood is like a teenager with nothing to do–trouble is bound to happen. Elevated sugar levels in the blood will “tan” proteins (glycosylation), which makes immune cells and red blood cells less capable of doing their jobs. Elevated sugar in the blood has a number of ways in which it promotes cancer:

16 Tips To Substitute Honey for Sugar

Cancer cells primarily use glucose for fuel. This inefficient pathway for energy metabolism yields only 5% of the ATP energy available in food, which is one of the reasons why 40% of cancer patients die from malnutrition or cachexia. Cancer therapies need to regulate blood glucose levels via diet, intermittent fasting, supplements, enteral and parenteral solutions for cachectic patients, medication, exercise, gradual weight loss, stress reduction, etc.

Fruit and Cancer: Debunking Myths and Understanding the Sugar Cancer Connection

Given the abundant scientific data supporting the sugar-cancer link, many people have been quick to discourage the consumption of fruit. Throughout human history, fruit has been the ultimate health food, until the paleo and keto diet trends set in. There is abundant misinformation that fruits are harmful since fruits contain natural sugars.

While the Paleolithic and ketogenic diets have their place, they have eliminated or seriously reduced the most powerful anticancer food groups: fruit, whole grains, legumes.

In fact, ALL scientific evidence shows that whole fruits are an important part of anyone’s diet, especially the cancer patient. Whole fruits are a rich mixture of vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, pectin, fiber, potassium, and promising anti-cancer agents, such as ficin in figs and phytoalexins in red fruits. The antioxidant capacity (ORAC) and laxative effect of most fruits is therapeutic for the body.

In one study, Harvard researchers followed 75,000 women for 24 years and found that 2 servings of peaches per week lowered the risk for breast cancer by 40%. 17 In another study, Harvard researchers studied 44,000 men in Hawaii. The more fruit they ate, the lower the risk for cancer; in a dose dependent fashion. 18

The Power of Fruits: Does Fruit Sugar Feed Cancer?

Fact is, fruit, eggs, and insects were the original caveman food, when intelligence and tools limited what was available to eat. Red and green fruits and vegetables, garlic and cabbage family contain phytoalexins, which have powerful anti-cancer and anti-fungal activity. Here is where you begin to appreciate the brilliant design of nature. Fruit contains sugar, which fungus and insects would love to eat. Hence, fruits could only survive by producing substances that inhibit fungal growth, insects, etc. Is cancer a fungal infection?

Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Control gut and blood glucose through diet (no refined carbs), supplements (i.e. cinnamon, chromium, vanadium, magnesium), stress reduction (cortisol can increase blood glucose), exercise, and intermittent fasting.

By Patrick Quillin, PhD,RD,CNS
Excerpted from Beating Cancer with Nutrition

Beating Cancer With Nutrition Book

4 Warburg, O., Science, vol.123, no.3191, p.309, Feb.1956
5 Demetrakopoulos, GE, Cancer Research, vol.42, p.756S, Feb.1982
6 Gullino, PM, Cancer Research, vol.27,p.1031, June 1967
7 Rossi-Fanelli, F., J.Parenteral Enteral Nutr., vol.15, p.680, 1991
Press, NY, 1994
9 Volk, T., Br.J.Cancer, vol.68, p.492, 1993
10 Leeper, DB, Int.J.Hyperthermia, vol.14, no.3, p.257, 1998
11 Sanchez, A., Amer.J.Clin.Nutr., vol.26, p.1180, Nov.1973
12 Yam, D., Medical Hypotheses, vol.38, p.111, 1992
14 Moerman, CJ, Int.J.Epidemiology, vol.22, no.2, p.207, 1993
15 Seeley,S.,, Med.Hypotheses, vol.11, p.319, 1983
16 Rothkopf, M, Fuel utilization in neoplastic disease: implications for the use of nutritional support in cancer
patients, Nutrition, supp, 6:4:14-16S, 1990

Dr. Patrick Quillin

Dr. Patrick Quillin, PhD,RD,CNS is an internationally recognized expert in the area of nutrition and health. He has 30 years experience as a clinical nutritionist, of which 10 years were spent as the Vice President for a leading cancer hospital system where he worked with thousands of cancer patients in a hospital setting. He is a Best Selling Author with 18 books which have sold over 2,000,000 copies and also a Keynote Speaker.

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