Sugar Feeds Cancer Cells

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As with any topic you search on the internet, you can become overloaded with information and may soon be asking yourself what is the truth.  There is valuable information and resources available to us on the internet, but we are each uniquely different; we need to keep an open mind during our searches.                                         

After being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, Stage IV, I found myself asking “how could this happen?”  For the most part, I ate healthy, practiced yoga regularly, was a non-smoker and did not drink excessively.  One of my many searches was about sugar and the effects if any with cancer growth.  Sugar (Glucose) is the primary source of fuel for most cells within our body, including cancer cells.  And while sugar does feed “healthy” cells, it also feeds “cancer” cells.  There are many clinical studies and research that explain the complete process of how our bodies and cells metabolize sugar, which in my opinion can be a bit complex to comprehend.

In simple terms, when you eat a lot of sugar, your body produces a lot of insulin. Insulin is a natural substance made by the body. Insulin can “rev up” cell growth. For healthy cells, this is a good thing. This is because the cells in your body grow, divide, die, and are replaced as part of the natural process of living. However, cancer cells can be encouraged to grow more, too, when our bodies produce too much insulin. So while some insulin in the body is normal, excess insulin may encourage cancer cells to grow more, which is not a good thing (1-6).

According to The Alternative Medicine Research Foundation (non-profit research group), the key here is to control the supply of cancer’s preferred fuel, glucose. Often times we as cancer patients lack nutritional advice.  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 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.

Seeking professional guidance by a nutritionist on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet along with patient self-discipline can help put you on the road to wellness.


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  1. Goodwin PJ, Ennis M, Pritchard KI, Trudeau ME, Koo J, Madarnas Y, Hartwick W, Hoffman B, Hood N. Fasting Insulin and Outcome in Early-Stage Breast Cancer: Results of a Prospective Cohort Study. J Clin Oncol. 2002;20:42-51.
  2. Goodwin PJ, Ennis M, Pritchard KI, Trudeau ME, Koo J, Hartwick W, Hoffman B, Hood N. Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins 1 and 3 and breast cancer outcomes. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2002;74:65-76.
  3. Sauter ER, Chervoneva I, Diamandis A, Khosravi JM, Litwin S, Diamandis EP. Prostate-specific antigen and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 in nipple aspirate fluid are associated with breast cancer. Cancer Detect Prev. 2002;26:149-157.
  4. Baron JA, Weiderpass E, Newcomb PA, Stampfer M, Titus-Ernstoff L, Egan KM, Greenberg ER. Metabolic disorders and breast cancer risk. Cancer Causes Control. 2001;12:875-880.
  5. Augustin LS, Dal Maso L, La Vecchia C, Parpinel M, Negri E, Vaccarella S, Kendall CW, Jenkins DJ, Francesch S. Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load, and breast cancer risk: A case-control study. Ann Oncol. 2001;12:1533-1538.
  6. Toniolo P, Bruning PF, Akhmedkhanov A, Bonfrer JMG, Koenig KL, Lukanova A, Shore RE, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A. Serum insulin-like growth factor-I and breast cancer. Int J Cancer. 2000;88:828-832.

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