Does Sugar Fuel the Growth of Cancer Cells?


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Does Sugar Fuel the Growth of Cancer Cells?

Yes, it does. But, this is not the complete truth. The relationship between cancer cells and sugar is confusing. Sugar fuels all cells in the body, including cancer cells and immune system cells. The concept that sugar feeds cancer is often puzzled when included in a cancer treatment plan, and it occurs due to various reasons, including these.

Unique Metabolism

German Otto Warburg discovered that the metabolism of cancer cells is different from other cells in the body. When a person consumes sugar, the cancer cells take it up at least 10–12 times faster than other cells. Therefore, when a cancer patient consumes sugar, chances are that the entire sugar content is taken up by the cancer cells, which boosts their growth.

Acidic Environment

Cancer cells love acidic environment and sugar cells are highly acidic in nature. Blood pH is 7.4 whereas sugar pH is 6.4. This way, sugar creates an ideal environment for cancer cells to thrive.

Pac-Man Effect

Phagocytosis, also known as the Pac-Man Effect of the immune system, is necessary to reduce free-living agents in the body. An experiment conducted by Professor John Frelinger revealed that the Pac-Man effect could assist in fighting cancer cells. However, sugar drastically suppresses phagocytosis and makes the immune system vulnerable to the attack of cancer cells. In another research study, it has been found that cancer cells have the capability of stimulating abnormal activity of the immune system. 10 teaspoons of sugar can suppress phagocytosis by 50%. Moderate consumption of sugar reduced phagocytosis by 38% after one hour of intake. The suppressed activity of the immune system is recovered after at least five hours.  This  means that for five hours, your immune system is much more vulnerable to foreign attack due to the consumption of sugar.


Obesity, a known cause of cancer is itself caused due to sugar intake, along with other factors. The American Institute of Cancer Research has stated that each year, at least 100,000 new cancer cases are due to obesity.

Abnormal Biochemical Activity

When sugar is ingested, the pancreas releases insulin. The researchers have found that insulin or insulin-like growth factors stimulate the production of cancer cells. The National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands declared that sugar intake doubles the risk of cancer in people, specifically women who are more vulnerable to breast cancer.

Other Findings

Another research study reveals that pancreatic tumors thrive on fructose. Since fructose is ideally processed in the pancreas, liver and stomach, the chances of cancer due to fructose are higher than that of glucose.

Professor Sanchia Aranda, the CEO of Cancer Council Australia, claims that it is not actually the sugar but the amount of sugar taken that causes the cancer. Restricted sugar intake does not suppress the cancer cells, but it limits the growth of cancer cells. In some cases, it restricts the growth of complex types of cancer cells, hence aiding the treatment of cancer. Dr Aranda claims that sugar causes obesity, and obesity is a major factor that contributes to cancer. Limiting the intake of sugar purposed to get rid of obesity and to achieve optimal fitness is one strategy that can help treat cancer, or prevent it at all costs.

Is Sugar that Bad?

Sugar is progressive for cancer growth, and we all know that now. However, we cannot forget that sugar is necessary for other cells and systems also. Just like oxygen is vital for the body, sugar is also necessary for keeping our natural systems regulated. However, excess of anything is dangerous. Since lifestyle management can help prevent cancer occurrence or recurrence, it is important that people include a guided diet plan in their lifestyle management plan to make sure that their sugar intake is balanced and under control.

Does that mean that cancer patients should eliminate sugar from their diet? Not really! Cancer patients should limit the intake of sugar, but they should not cut out sugar intake all at once. It is because sugar is required to keep your immune cells regulated. When you eliminate the intake of sugar, your immune system weakens and becomes vulnerable to the attack of cancer cells. Your cancer cells also suppress, but the overall effect of eliminating sugar in this fashion is least effective. Along with that, your body finds other ways to get glucose, which is supplied to the cancer cells due to the sugar-stimulated mutations caused in it. Even if you cut out sugar, the cancer cells get glucose and your other systems become less efficient.

According to the World Health Organization, the calories from sugar should not be more than 5% of the total calories taken. According to USDA, the maximum amount of calories taken from sugar should be 10% i.e. Nobody should exceed this limit in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Although limited data is available on sugar and cancer, a lot of research has yet to be done.  It is important to mention that almost all researchers agree that sugar contributes to the growth of cancer cells. Various approaches to cancer and the sugar link require experimental evidence. However, sugar may not trigger cancer occurrence, but it may trigger recurrence in certain cases. Lifestyle management and weight control are two important factors that need to be looked into for helping reduce the increasing number of cancer cases in the US.

It is important to remember that  “sugar is called the white death for cancer”.



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