FAQ: Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?

11 answers | Last updated: Oct 29, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Does sugar feed cancer cells?

Expert Answers

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

The short answer is no -- with a big qualifying "but." Glucose (sugar) is the primary fuel for most of the cells in the body, including the brain, muscles, and -- yes -- even cancer cells. It's the preferred fuel because it's easily taken up by most cells throughout the body to use as an energy source.

But to say that sugar feeds cancer is a misstatement. Elevated levels of blood sugar stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas. If insulin levels remain elevated for long periods of time, this causes an increase in inflammation -- basically, the body's normal immune response goes into a kind of unhealthy overdrive. Then, through a complex and coordinated series of events, tumor cells use this inflammatory process to signal cells to multiply. It's the prolonged release of insulin in response to chronic elevations in blood sugar that's the true problem.

The goal, therefore -- and the most important concept to understand -- is that through the foods you choose to eat, you can create an anti-inflammatory environment in the body. You can stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels.

To accomplish this and avoid those damaging fluctuations in blood sugar:

  • Minimize intakes of processed foods that are high in refined flours and sugars, foods obviously high in white starches (sugar and white flour), and juices.

  • Choose foods that are close to their original forms found in nature (whole fruits instead of fruit juices, whole grains instead of white bread, etc.).

  • Switch to more whole grains and high-fiber foods. Good examples: steel-cut oats, brown rice.

  • Look for colorful produce. Great anti-inflammatory choices include blueberries, red grapes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), and tomatoes.

  • Consume naturally healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, nut butters, extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, and avocadoes. Avoid trans fats (check nutrition labels) and oils such as corn, vegetable, and safflower, as well as mayonnaise and most processed salad dressings (the kind found bottled on grocery store shelves).

  • Limit alcohol consumption to one to two glasses per day; red wine is the best choice, since it has the most anti-inflammatory chemicals.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Yes, very informative!. Thanks

Dontdieneedlessly answered...

I have two love ones fighting cancer. They followed their doctors advice for three months.They grew weaker and sicker and the cancer was spreading. I encouraged them to dump their doctor and get with a naturopathic doctor they did and thank god for this man. What he suggested as treatment was to change their diet completely to rae food diet and organic if they could afford it. They bought a juicer and drank plenty of veggie/fruit juice.

He also told them to get outside and get as much sun as they felt comfortable with without burning their skin. They started to exercise more and built up their exercise time.....water....plenty of water and taking vitamins...Vitamin E, B17, calcium and magnesum.......and avoid FRUCTOSE as it feeds cancer cells.....having high insulin levels is also bad for your health as it aids in cancer growth.

Anyways their first doctor had them on some cancer diet that in no way would encourgae their own immunity to grow to fight their cancer.

They are alive because they did not follow the cancer treatment plan that is so common and does nothing to fight cancer.

People need to do their own research and become their own advocate for better effective cancer treatments and demand accountability from those that simply profit from this deadly disease.

Lorxena answered...

Cancer cells consume approximately 5 times to 8 times more glucose (sugar) than normal cells consume. This is why PET and SPECT and Octreo scans are effective diagnostic tools. Cancer cells more readily uptake the radioactive-labeled glucose (because they consume more glucose than normal cells) and then glow during imaging. So, reducing sugar intake is highly advisable. I've survived active stage 4B pancreatic cancer for almost 6 years now by limting refined sugar intake and changing my entire lifestyle and diet, I've also had surgeries and very limited radio-frequency ablations, but absolutely NO chemo. Although I still have active cancer, am living with it... and still happy to be alive.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Read the Nobel-winning scientists' research from Otto Warburg, on how sugar feeds cancer cells. It is not difficult at all to understand. All cancer cells nourish themselves with glucose, taking in twenty times the amount a healthy cell does. This is why the liquid metals therapy, Cesium/Rubidium with Potassium works, raising the ph of cancer cells to kill them, not penetrating healthy cells. Our family member was given four months to live, with the most aggressive type of melanoma in his liver. It is seven years later, and his now yearly MRI shows only necrosis (dead remains of tumors). No chemo taken.

Switch to a plant-based diet, take aloe vera from the plant with meals, spirulina, nutritional yeast, flaxseed oil, Vitamin D, E, C, Calcium, Magnesium, a good multi vitamin, folic acid, B complex. Use tumeric, broccoli, all cruciferous vegetables carrots, assorted squashes; after going into remission - organic eggs, dairy. Use assorted beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, bean pulp burgers, sausages, "meat" balls, only organic produce, brown rice in moderation, whole wheat pasta and bread, dark green leafy vegetables, avoid fruit until going into remission. Use green tea. Take vegetable broth with traditional barley miso every day (add after taking broth from burner).

Go to cancertutor.com for all the wonderful, encouraging testimonials. Stay positive, expect the best, be grateful. Share the awarenesses about fast food, processed food, growth hormones, animal feed laced with antibiotics, chemical residues from fertilizers, insecticides in nonorganic feed.

Jewel1309197mc answered...

Google "Health benefits of asparagras"and read what it says about the great results in healing of hopeless cancer cases. I buy the low sodium brand in the can and grind it in the blender and take 4 tbps. at night and in the morning. I warm it up but my wife likes it cold.

Crazyslayer answered...

regular doctors wont incourage a natural way to fight cancer if they did they wouldnt make money thats the name of the game in this country, keep people sick and on drugs so they can make money.the fda allows all this horrible addictive stuff in our food and everyday there is yet another article about all advertised natural foods arent really natural.I believe this is the only country that advertises their drugs and tells you to go and ask your doctor to give you the drugs they advertise money money money thats what iots all about .they simply dont care about people.

Brutusesmom answered...

Sugar absolutely feeds cancer. I refused chemo and instead started a vegan diet and stopped eating sugar. My intake before my diagnosis was enough to kill an elephant. Now I don't eat any processed products or sugar. Only sugar I ingest is from fruit, veggie's, etc. My latest PET scan confirms it, my cancer is not growing in some spots, actually shrunk in others. No one on this earth can tell me that sugar does not feed cancer. I'm living proof that the food we eat can and will cure cancer.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Alongside controlling cancer with a high nutritional, naturally low glycemic wholefoods diet high in raw foods(at least half of a meal should be salad to inhibit leukocytosis)... everyone should research Rick Simpson Oil(a good place to start is to search 'run from the cure' on youtube). Taken in a full spectrum concentrated oil, cannabinoids block cancer cells from being able to take up glucose, whilst at the same time inducing apoptosis(causes the cancer cells to commit suicide) In order for cannabinoids to work best in the body though, it is important your diet is also high in omega 3 fatty acids-hence what Dr.Budwig was onto...it's no coincidence that hemp seeds have a perfect ratio of omega 3,6 and 9 for human health...the plant is providing you with everything you need so that the cannabinoids can perform the job properly. To anyone with cancer or poor health, I would strongly urge you to look into this. For high THC you take the oil, for high CBD you want to juice the leaves and when dealing with cancer, you want to do both.

Brutusesmom answered...

I appreciate that long explanation why you say "cancer does not feed sugar" but the simple explanation is it absolutely does feed cancer and more should be stressed to cancer patients about not consuming sugar. Sugar is poison for the entire body and everyone should know they shouldn't be eating it, ever.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I see a lot of people disagree with the article. And I am also one of them that would tend to disagree. We have to remember that universities are funded largely by corporations like Monsanto, including Duke, of which the writer is a graduate. And a lot of studies will only tell you as much as what they think you want to hear. Yes, I believe people have to start looking to alternatives for curing cancer, and the prevention of it. Her article, I would only take with a grain of salt. But she does make a good point. Sugar causes inflammation. So that being said, why would take sugar if you already have cancer? You already have a great deal of inflammation without making it worse.