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a question about sugar


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Many of you here maintain that sugar "feeds" cancer. I have also read that that is a bunch of bunk and that cancer does not feed on sugar. This leaves me very confused of course.

Can you point me in the direction of the research that backs up the view that sugar "feeds" the cancer? Maybe I will have more success with cutting the sugar out of my life if I have solid research to back it up.

I would appreciate any help any one can give me on this issue.



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Every doctor learned back in medical school all about Otto Warburgs discovery; a discovery of humongous proportions, because way back in the fifties Otto discovered the main biochemical cause of cancer, or what differentiates a cancer cell from a normal, healthy cell. So big a discovery was this, that Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Cancer has only one prime cause. It is the replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body's cells by an anaerobic [i.e., oxygen-deficient] cell respiration. -Dr. Otto Warburg

But what else does Warburg's discovery tell us. First off, it tells us that cancer metabolizes much differently than normal cells. Normal cells need oxygen. Cancer cells despise oxygen. In fact, oxygen therapy is a favorite among many of the alternative clinics we've researched.

Another thing this tells us is that cancer metabolizes through a process of fermentation.

If you’ve ever made wine, you'll know that fermentation requires sugar.

The metabolism of cancer is approximately 8 times greater than the metabolism of normal cells.

Okay, so here is what we can put together knowing the above: The body is constantly overworked trying to feed this cancer. The cancer is constantly on the verge of starvation and thus constantly asking the body to feed it. When the food supply is cut off, the cancer begins to starve unless it can make the body produce sugar to feed itself.

The wasting syndrome, cachexia, is the body producing sugar from proteins (you heard it right, not from carbohydrates or fats, but from proteins) in a process called glycogenesis. This sugar feeds the cancer. The body finally dies of starvation, trying to feed the cancer.

Now, knowing that one's cancer needs sugar, does it make sense to feed it sugar? Does it make sense to have a high carbohydrate diet?

The reason Food Therapies even exist today (beyond the fact that they work) is because someone once saw the connection between sugar and cancer. There are many food therapies, but not a single one allows many foods high in carbohydrates and not a single one allows sugars,


Why doesn’t your physician tell you this? Hard to tell. Maybe your doctor feels it is his job to cure your cancer, not yours. Maybe because your doctor learned about Warburg, but never pit the rest together, never placed nutrition into the equation. Maybe because your physician didn’t study nutrition. Heck, as late as 1978, the AMA’s official position (stated in courts of law) was that nutrition had nothing to do with health or disease.

However, those who’ve paid attention to this sugar craving cancer stuff have come up with some remarkable therapies for cancer. Laetrile is just one. Hydrazine Sulfate, which stops the process of glycogenesis in greater than 50% of all patients with cachexia is another.

Today, at the University of Minnesota, they are experimenting with a chemotherapy delivered in a "smart bomb" Here’s the scoop: the drug is wrapped in a coating that stays intact as it travels through the body, that is until it reaches a location of no oxygen. When it reaches this "no oxygen location," the coating falls apart releasing the chemotherapy to destroy the cancer, because the only place in your body where there is no oxygen is the cancer site.

Then there are the food therapies: aimed at starving cancer. Knowing what cancer loves, the patient avoids them. Cancer loves cooked foods (this is a relatively recent finding) and cancer loves sugar. If you hate your cancer, then starve it.

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Sugar and Cancer

Originally printed by The Alternative Research Foundation

It puzzles me why the simple concept "sugar feeds cancer" can be so dramatically overlooked as part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan.

Of the 4 million cancer patients being treated in America today, hardly any are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to "just eat good foods." Most patients I work with arrive with a complete lack of nutritional advice.

I believe many cancer patients would have a major improvement in their outcome if they controlled the supply of cancer's preferred fuel, glucose.

By slowing the cancer's growth, patients allow their immune systems and medical debulking therapies -- chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to reduce the bulk of the tumor mass -- to catch up to the disease.

Controlling one's blood-glucose levels through diet, supplements, exercise, meditation and prescription drugs when necessary can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer recovery program. The sound bite -- sugar feeds cancer -- is simple. The explanation is a little more complex.

The 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine, German Otto Warburg, Ph.D., first discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells.

The crux of his Nobel thesis was that malignant tumors frequently exhibit an increase in anaerobic glycolysis -- a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer cells with lactic acid as an anaerobic byproduct -- compared to normal tissues.

The large amount of lactic acid produced by this fermentation of glucose from cancer cells is then transported to the liver. This conversion of glucose to lactate generates a lower, more acidic pH in cancerous tissues as well as overall physical fatigue from lactic acid buildup. Thus, larger tumors tend to exhibit a more acidic pH.

This inefficient pathway for energy metabolism yields only 2 moles of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy per mole of glucose, compared to 38 moles of ATP in the complete aerobic oxidation of glucose.

By extracting only about 5 percent (2 vs. 38 moles of ATP) of the available energy in the food supply and the body's calorie stores, the cancer is "wasting" energy, and the patient becomes tired and undernourished. This vicious cycle increases body wasting.

It is one reason why 40 percent of cancer patients die from malnutrition, or cachexia. Hence, cancer therapies should encompass regulating blood-glucose levels via diet, supplements, non-oral solutions for cachectic patients who lose their appetite, medication, exercise, gradual weight loss and stress reduction. Professional guidance and patient self-discipline are crucial at this point in the cancer process. The quest is not to eliminate sugars or carbohydrates from the diet but rather to control blood glucose within a narrow range to help starve the cancer and bolster immune function.

The glycemic index is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the digestion and absorption process, which provides a healthier, more gradual infusion of sugars into the bloodstream.

Conversely, a high rating means blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. This rapid fluctuation of blood-sugar levels is unhealthy because of the stress it places on the body

Sugar in the Body and Diet

Sugar is a generic term used to identify simple carbohydrates, which includes monosaccharides such as fructose, glucose and galactose; and disaccharides such as maltose and sucrose (white table sugar). Think of these sugars as different-shaped bricks in a wall.

When fructose is the primary monosaccharide brick in the wall, the glycemic index registers as healthier, since this simple sugar is slowly absorbed in the gut, then converted to glucose in the liver. This makes for "time-release foods," which offer a more gradual rise and fall in blood-glucose levels.

If glucose is the primary monosaccharide brick in the wall, the glycemic index will be higher and less healthy for the individual. As the brick wall is torn apart in digestion, the glucose is pumped across the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream, rapidly raising blood-glucose levels.

In other words, there is a "window of efficacy" for glucose in the blood: levels too low make one feel lethargic and can create clinical hypoglycemia; levels too high start creating the rippling effect of diabetic health problems.

The 1997 American Diabetes Association blood-glucose standards consider 126 mg glucose/dL blood or greater to be diabetic; 111 to 125 mg/dL is impaired glucose tolerance and less than 110 mg/dL is considered normal.

Meanwhile, the Paleolithic diet of our ancestors, which consisted of lean meats, vegetables and small amounts of whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits, is estimated to have generated blood glucose levels between 60 and 90 mg/dL.

Obviously, today's high-sugar diets are having unhealthy effects as far as blood-sugar is concerned. Excess blood glucose may initiate yeast overgrowth, blood vessel deterioration, heart disease and other health conditions.

Understanding and using the glycemic index is an important aspect of diet modification for cancer patients. However, there is also evidence that sugars may feed cancer more efficiently than starches (comprised of long chains of simple sugars), making the index slightly misleading. A study of rats fed diets with equal calories from sugars and starches, for example, found the animals on the high-sugar diet developed more cases of breast cancer.

The glycemic index is a useful tool in guiding the cancer patient toward a healthier diet, but it is not infallible. By using the glycemic index alone, one could be led to thinking a cup of white sugar is healthier than a baked potato.

This is because the glycemic index rating of a sugary food may be lower than that of a starchy food. To be safe, I recommend less fruit, more vegetables, and little to no refined sugars in the diet of cancer patients.

What the Literature Says

A mouse model of human breast cancer demonstrated that tumors are sensitive to blood-glucose levels. Sixty-eight mice were injected with an aggressive strain of breast cancer, then fed diets to induce either high blood-sugar (hyperglycemia), normoglycemia or low blood-sugar (hypoglycemia).

There was a dose-dependent response in which the lower the blood glucose, the greater the survival rate. After 70 days, 8 of 24 hyperglycemic mice survived compared to 16 of 24 normoglycemic and 19 of 20 hypoglycemic.

This suggests that regulating sugar intake is key to slowing breast tumor growth.

In a human study, 10 healthy people were assessed for fasting blood-glucose levels and the phagocytic index of neutrophils, which measures immune-cell ability to envelop and destroy invaders such as cancer. Eating 100 g carbohydrates from glucose, sucrose, honey and orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria. Starch did not have this effect.

A four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 controls. Cancer risk associated with the intake of sugars, independent of other energy sources, more than doubled for the cancer patients.

Furthermore, an epidemiological study in 21 modern countries that keep track of morbidity and mortality (Europe, North America, Japan and others) revealed that sugar intake is a strong risk factor that contributes to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.

Limiting sugar consumption may not be the only line of defense. In fact, an interesting botanical extract from the avocado plant (Persea americana) is showing promise as a new cancer adjunct.

When a purified avocado extract called mannoheptulose was added to a number of tumor cell lines tested in vitro by researchers in the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford University in Britain, they found it inhibited tumor cell glucose uptake by 25 to 75 percent, and it inhibited the enzyme glucokinase responsible for glycolysis. It also inhibited the growth rate of the cultured tumor cell lines.

The same researchers gave lab animals a 1.7 mg/g body weight dose of mannoheptulose for five days; it reduced tumors by 65 to 79 percent. Based on these studies, there is good reason to believe that avocado extract could help cancer patients by limiting glucose to the tumor cells.

Since cancer cells derive most of their energy from anaerobic glycolysis, Joseph Gold, M.D., director of the Syracuse (N.Y.) Cancer Research Institute and former U.S. Air Force research physician, surmised that a chemical called hydrazine sulfate, used in rocket fuel, could inhibit the excessive gluconeogenesis (making sugar from amino acids) that occurs in cachectic cancer patients.

Gold's work demonstrated hydrazine sulfate's ability to slow and reverse cachexia in advanced cancer patients. A placebo-controlled trial followed 101 cancer patients taking either 6 mg hydrazine sulfate three times/day or placebo. After one month, 83 percent of hydrazine sulfate patients increased their weight, compared to 53 percent on placebo.

A similar study by the same principal researchers, partly funded by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., followed 65 patients. Those who took hydrazine sulfate and were in good physical condition before the study began lived an average of 17 weeks longer.

The medical establishment may be missing the connection between sugar and its role in tumorigenesis. Consider the million-dollar positive emission tomography device, or PET scan, regarded as one of the ultimate cancer-detection tools. PET scans use radioactively labeled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumor cells. PET scans are used to plot the progress of cancer patients and to assess whether present protocols are effective.

In Europe, the "sugar feeds cancer" concept is so well accepted that oncologists, or cancer doctors, use the Systemic Cancer Multistep Therapy (SCMT) protocol. Conceived by Manfred von Ardenne in Germany in 1965, SCMT entails injecting patients with glucose to increase blood-glucose concentrations.

This lowers pH values in cancer tissues via lactic acid formation. In turn, this intensifies the thermal sensitivity of the malignant tumors and also induces rapid growth of the cancer. Patients are then given whole-body hyperthermia (42 C core temperature) to further stress the cancer cells, followed by chemotherapy or radiation.

SCMT was tested on 103 patients with metastasized cancer or recurrent primary tumors in a clinical phase-I study at the Von Ardenne Institute of Applied Medical Research in Dresden, Germany. Five-year survival rates in SCMT-treated patients increased by 25 to 50 percent, and the complete rate of tumor regression increased by 30 to 50 percent.

The protocol induces rapid growth of the cancer, then treats the tumor with toxic therapies for a dramatic improvement in outcome.

The irrefutable role of glucose in the growth and metastasis of cancer cells can enhance many therapies. Some of these include diets designed with the glycemic index in mind to regulate increases in blood glucose, hence selectively starving the cancer cells; low-glucose TPN solutions; avocado extract to inhibit glucose uptake in cancer cells; hydrazine sulfate to inhibit gluconeogenesis in cancer cells; and SCMT.

A female patient in her 50s, with lung cancer, came to our clinic, having been given a death sentence by her Florida oncologist. She was cooperative and understood the connection between nutrition and cancer. She changed her diet considerably, leaving out 90 percent of the sugar she used to eat.

She found that wheat bread and oat cereal now had their own wild sweetness, even without added sugar.

With appropriately restrained medical therapy -- including high-dose radiation targeted to tumor sites and fractionated chemotherapy, a technique that distributes the normal one large weekly chemo dose into a 60-hour infusion lasting days -- a good attitude and an optimal nutrition program which included Sam's formula nine times/day, she beat her terminal lung cancer.

I saw her last month, five years later and still disease-free, probably looking better than the doctor who told her there was no hope.



Nearly all of us are addicted to sugar. There is not one single food item that is generally more damaging to health. The problem is that most of us are addicted to it. The Hellers in their book, Carbohydrate Addicts, discuss the evidence supporting this link. I do not agree with their one hour reward meal, but otherwise the book helps one understand the depth of this problem.

Related Articles:

Dangers of Sugar

Sugar Ruins Health

Cancer/Sugar Connection

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It took about 3 weeks for my cravings to go away. I still eat fruit , and use a juicer to juice fruit in the mornings.

I eat plain yogurt with granola for a treat.......

I feel al ot more energetic... Still have an occassional craving for a piece of cake, or a milkshake..... I do eat a piece of cake at birthday celebrations (small)

I would suggest trying to cut back,and if you have a little relapse- don't beat yourself up over it.... just get back on the plan and try again.

prayer can help as well....... it's a lifestyle change. We are now trying to eat just whole foods and organic produce, free range poultry. "If it doesn't sprout, or rot... throw it out"

Its very hard for most people - because culturally its all around us, and I know many people feel its too big of a quality of life thing to give up....

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Rick and Joe are both entirely right. You will be surprised how much easier it gets as time goes on. I tasted my husband's soup at a restaurant the other day and I could TASTE that it had SUGAR added~ It was not a sweet soup but after a while sugar doesn't even taste good anymore.

Some people don't eat fruit or whole grain products. I follow the program outlined in Joe's post with the Low or "in the range" glycemic index. That means I eat WHOLE (and I do mean whole -- packaging is often misleading) grains in SMALL amounts and small amounts of fruits but only after protein so my blood sugar doesn't rise too drastically.

The green or herbal teas are available in flavors (with no sweetener -artifical or otherwise) and satisfy my sweet tooth - especially with a few rasberries. Yellow bell peppers are great for you and taste really sweet once you have given up sugar for a while.

Just remember that they inject glucose before a pet scan to get you cancer to activate and light up -- nice way to make your cancer say yum yum. (not as scientific as the guys just said but it works for me). If I want sugar, I think of my little cancer cells as pac men looking for sugar to feed them and make them stronger -- no thanks.

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Thank you everyone for the great articles on nutrition, sugar & cancer. So many times I asked my mother's doctor about nutrition and how that plays a part in her cancer treatment. I was always told that "at this point" just eat whatever you can eat. Use to p*** me off to to end. So many people, expecially Doctors, are clueless, uneducated about the perils of sugar and poor nutrition. I constantly fight my own family about this issue. It's so good to know others feel as I do about the importance of good choices of foods.

Thank you.


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  • 1 year later...


that's all I have to say.

Dave's really been craving sugar lately. and look at his cancer. his body's been craving it for the cancer I bet.


Also, if you're on steroids, the nurse practitioner told us you're in a higher danger of developing diabetes, so that right there is another good reason to lay off the sugar.


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Well you have convinced me. My sugar days are over, or at least I'm going to try my best to give it up. I going to approach this the way I did with my cigarette addition. I beat that one so I know I can beat this.


Best wishes,


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It doesnt make sense to me. You body needs glucose - without glucose your body can not function.

All carbohydrates (complex and simple) are essentially "sugar".

Refined sugar is sucrose which is two glucose molecules.

Say you eliminated all carbohydrates from your diet. Your body would still convert protein to glucose (gluconeogenesis). Glucose provides energy to all cells (cancerous or not)

http://www.ohiohealth.com/healthreferen ... egory=5171

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Ok, kinda related. Has anyone noticed their blood sugars being elevated during and post chemo? I never had this before and now I do. Also craving sugar where I didnt before. My joke during chemo was fudgesicles and chardonnay got me through. It wasn't a joke.

Thought I would throw that one in there.


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I'll probably get some flak for this, but I've been on Atkins for the last couple of weeks - and I feel great! The cravings for sugar just don't exist anymore, which is VERY unusual for me!

Even if you don't go with the whole plan, you can modify it to something you can handle. Just reading all their info makes you realize what you're doing to your body and what you're putting in your body....




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It is possible for people to die of dihydrogen oxide poisoning as well. Too much dihydrogen oxide can strip the body of vital nutrients, throw balances off on electrolytes and cause death...

Everything in moderation. Not only does cancer show up on a PET scan, new injuries do, as well. Tissue that is healing tends to burn sugar faster.

I may watch what I eat, but I am not going to beat myself up if I give in to a craving for a Snickers bar or a few Double Stuf Oreos with a glass of milk...

Dihydrogen oxide? That would be H2O, commonly known as "water".

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When a non-diabetic eats, insulin levels rise, keeping the blood sugar within normal range. If sugar made cancer grow, it seems that diabetics would be at increased risk of all types of cancer, and that is not the case.

The advice to "just eat whatever you can" is based upon the observation that people with cancer lose their appetite and their metabolism is altered so that they cannot build lean tissue. In my practice, if someone with cancer wants milkshakes, I encourage them to enjoy all the milkshakes they want. Or fudgesicles and chardonnay! :)

For those who are recovering from cancer, the story is a bit different. Solid nutrition is very important when your appetite and metabolism are back to normal. And cutting out refined sugar is certainly not harmful.

As John said, "sugar" comes from many sources; all food is ultimately converted to sugar for use by the body. But the glycemic index of potatoes is higher than that of orange juice, for example, so it is hard to know which foods to exclude if you are concerned about small, transient rises in blood sugar.

The truth is that there is precious little nutritional research in any field. Maybe very tight blood sugar control helps, maybe it doesn't. My advice would be to eat sensibly and take a multivitamin every day. Nutritional deficiencies are a greater threat to health than sugar.

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Was just surfing and read Beth's question and not being a expert on nutrition i'm unable to state whether sugar (glucose) is food for cancer or not. But as one who strongly believe's when your time here on earth is up nothing will change that. We've all heard the saying ONE MAN"S MEAT IS ANOTHER MAN'S POISON< well i suspect such is the case with sugar and cancer.

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I once had a Dr. tell me sugar is the most addictive and damaging substance on the face of the earth. After reading these posts I tend to

believe it. But like snowflake said, I won't give up little treats. Everything in moderation.

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OK, so now after reading this I feel like I have killed myself and thrown myself from Stage 3 to Stage 4. I have done nothing but eat sugar since dx in April 2004.

I know I can't beat myself up and should eat healthy but when your throat is swollen so tight it's hard to eat salad over ice cream....guess that's my defense. What's my defense now? Don't have one. I know I need to eat healthy but have such a bad attitude....don't care! The ice cream MAKES my throat feel better, not ice chips.

I had even switched from artificial sweetner to regular sugar because the artificial causes cancer!

I guess I'll try to cut back on the chocolate, wait for the scans and see where I am. If I'm doing better then I'll care. Sounds like a plan! Can't beat myself up for the past or an uncertain future!

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