20 Links between common sugar and cancer

20 Links between common sugar and cancer

There certainly is evidence that glucose and cancer are linked, both directly and indirectly via insulin. Lots of it. Below are just 20 of the links (from cause to proliferation to immune damage), that can be found easily on the Internet, if you can be bothered to look.



Cancer cells derive their energy from an anaerobic fermentation process known as glycolysis. This was discovered by Otto Warburg, who in 1931 won the Nobel Prize for Medicine, and now is elementary GCSE science. It is a grossly inefficient process. Conversely, healthy cells derive energy using oxygen in the mitochondria (power stations) gaining 32 times more energy from the same input. In cancer cells, these power stations are shut down.



Glycolysis requires glucose; without it most cancer cells simply lack the metabolic flexibility to survive. Glycolysis also results in a highly toxic waste product called lactic acid, which is denatured in the liver to glucose, and that passes back through the body to feed the cancer cells. It is their safety net.


1. In the January 2014 Journal of Clinical Investigation (124 (1), 367 – 384), scientists Yasuhito Onodera, Jin Min Nam and Min J Bissel showed that increased glucose uptake actually promotes cancer via two pathways – EPAC/RAP1 and O-GicNAc. They showed that increased glycolysis (due to increased use of glucose as a fuel) actually caused cancer to form.



2. Dr. Craig Thompson, President and Chief Executive of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has shown that a gene, AKT, promotes cancer by signaling what a cancer cell should ‘eat’ in about 80 per cent of cancers. “When an AKT protein is placed inside a cell, it does what any single-cell organism would do - it just stuffs itself with glucose, and makes as many copies of itself as possible”. Thompson has actually induced the full Warburg effect and caused cancer in this way. Dr. Chi Van Dang, Director of the Abramson Cancer Center in Pennsylvania goes further. He says that cancer cells are “addicted to nutrients” and notes that when they cannot consume enough, they just wither and die.



3. The Mayo Clinic states clearly on its website that “There is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.” It quotes oesophageal cancer as an example.



4. American Medical School Johns Hopkins has researched colorectal cancer and sugar (August 6, 2009; Colon Cancer may yield to Cellular Sugar Starvation). They showed that starving patients of sugar increases survival, finding two genes that cause a cancer’s survival and growth in situations where healthy cells fail.  For example, one of the cancer genes, GLUT1, makes more glucose transporters and helps the cells at the centre of a tumour digest more glucose.



5. Colorectal cancer risk is linked to lowered levels of certain strains of clostridia, a group of bacteria that are known to metabolise glucose. Poor sugar control has been consistently linked with cancer and people with Type-2 diabetes have higher risk of cancer. This may be direct – through glucose – or indirect – through insulin, according to the American Academy of Oncology Nutrition.



6. The University of Minnesota in a 2013 study showed that post-menopausal soda-drinking women had a higher risk of type 1 endometrial cancer. This sugar consumption link was independent of any obesity issues (see: http://www.healthtalk.umn.edu/2013/11/25/postmenopausal-soda-drinkers-at-higher-risk-of-developing-endometrial-cancer/)



7. People with the highest blood sugar levels develop more cancers, and people with cancer and high blood sugar levels survive least. As long ago as 1985, researchers using mice studied three identical groups, each having been given breast cancer. 70-day survival was inversely proportional to sugar consumption. The lower the blood sugar the greater the survival (Sebastian GA et al, Biochem Biores Nov 1985, Nov 15; 132 (3); 1174-9).



8. Oncologists know of cancer cells’ avarice for glucose, only too well. They use glucose with a radiological dye in PET scans, The feeding frenzy on the glucose allows the dye to enter only cancer cells.



9. It is a fact that cancer cells have much higher numbers of insulin receptor sites than healthy cells have, because the cancer cells need much higher levels of glucose if they are to grow rapidly. Some cancer therapies (for example, Insulin potentiation therapy) actually use this fact to drive lower doses of chemotherapy drugs into cancer cells.



10. Metformin, a drug used with Type-2 diabetes to lower serum glucose levels has been shown to be extremely helpful in cancer treatment. A meta-analysis of 20 research papers by Dr. Ming Yin et al in The Oncologist (November 15th 2013) stated the metformin helped ‘increase survival times of patients’. Editor Bruce Chabner said that the use of metformin “could actually play a part in tumour reduction by helping to lower plasma glucose levels”. Metformin is also known to influence a number of metabolic (feeding) pathways, and may even correct mitochondrial use. Diabetics who take metformin are much less likely to develop cancer than those who don’t. An herbal constituent, Berberine, has similar serum glucose-reducing effects and benefits.



11. The glucose and cancer risk equation is not just a direct relationship. Cutting blood glucose reduces insulin levels and this in turn reduces inflammation in the body because insulin is a proven driver of the Cox-2 inflammation pathway. Cancers love inflammation; it helps them spread.  In 2010, Yale Medical School Professor Tian Xu, showed Cox-2 inflammation also turned on two cancer-causing genes.



12. There is evidence that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS, the standard sweetening ingredient in fizzy soft drinks) is actually worse than glucose. In 2010 research conducted by Dr. Anthony Hearney of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center, studies on pancreatic cells showed that exposure to both glucose and fructose, made cancer cells divide and proliferate, but fructose (and fizzy soft drinks use High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS) made them divide much more rapidly. The team concluded that not all sugars were equal, and that glucose and HFCS made cancer cells react quite differently; HFCS being worse.



13. Conversely, inhibiting glucose uptake has been shown to block cancer cell development. Researchers from the Biochemistry Dept. of Oxford University used a sugar extract from avocados (mannoheptulose); this inhibited glucose uptake by between 25 and 75% (Board M; Can Res, Aug 1995; 55(15) 3278-85). Laboratory animals, given this mannoheptulose sugar for 5 days, showed tumour reductions of 65-79%.



14. Glucose damage doesn’t just involve feeding the cancer. As long ago as 1973 research showed that sugar consumption could block the action of the immune system from attacking cancer cells (Sanchez A et al; Am J Clin Nutr; Nov 1973; 26 (11) 1180-4).



15. A report (Oct 16th, 2014) in the American Journal of Public Health (Leung et al of UCSF) confirmed this, showing that consuming sugary drinks drastically depresses the immune system and in particular damages your essential DNA telomeres MORE THAN SMOKING. It concludes that ‘short telomeres have been associated with the development of chronic illnesses of aging, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer’.



16. Three to five day fasts has been shown by experts such as Dr. Valter Longo of the University of Southern California, San Diego to boost the immune system while stopping the progression of cancer by suppressing blood glucose, insulin and growth hormone levels.



17. In animal studies, short-term fasting alone delayed tumour growth to the same extent as treatment with the drug cyclophosphamide. Indeed, there are numerous studies on how fasting makes chemotherapy work better while protecting healthy cells – see ‘Fasting and cancer treatment in humans; A case series report’ (Fernando M. Safdie et al).



18. The Oncologist magazine in the UK in 2012 featured an editorial from an expert Detroit oncologist Andrew Turrisi, commenting on research showing that using calorie restriction (cutting carbohydrate calories by 15%) ‘made radiotherapy work better’ in patients.  Similar results have been found for chemotherapy (Nutrition Research and Radiation – When less is more). Full human Clinical Trials are underway.



19. Human Clinical Trials are also underway in America with a Ketogenic diet, where no non-fibre carbohydrate, little protein but very high good fat levels are consumed. This induces ketosis in healthy cells (ketosis is the burning of fat instead of carbs). Since cancer cells are inflexible, they cannot use fats and ketosis, and so they wither and die.  ‘Abnormal cancer metabolism creates a glycolytic-dependency which can be exploited by lowering glucose availability to the tumor’. Results using mice have already shown far greater survival times:  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673985/).



20. Oncologists at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London currently use ‘The Atkins Diet’ with patients who have brain tumours and are claiming much improved survival times. Oh, you remember the Atkins Diet, surely? It’s the one where you eat no carbs.  Meanwhile, research has shown metformin improves the effectiveness of Temozolomide, the brain tumour drug (/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3752); as does berberine in other research studies. The brain is particularly susceptible to glucose – See ‘Gliomas are driven by glycolysis – S. Oudard, E. Boilier et al; Anticancer Research 17; pg. 1903-1911’.








CancerAcitve Logo
Subscribe (Free e-Newsletter)

Join Our
Newsletter

Join Our Newsletter Signup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.