How Sugar Fuels Cancer In The Body

How Sugar Fuels Cancer In The Body

A population’s Sugar Consumption can significantly affect Cancer Rates ~Prof. Lewis Cantley, Harvard Medical School

By Flora Zhao via The Epoch Times

You may have heard that sugar can feed cancer cells. Is that true?

Sugars ‘Nourish’ Cancer Cells

For cancer patients, “sugar intake can indeed nourish cancer cells,” Mingyang Song, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The Epoch Times.

This is supported by strong epidemiological evidence, he said.

A study published in PLoS One involving 1,011 colon cancer patients with a follow-up period of over seven years found that compared to patients consuming less than two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per month, those who consumed two or more servings per day experienced a 67 percent increased risk of colon cancer recurrence or mortality.

Another Spanish study published in Clinical Nutrition in 2021 involving over 7,000 participants found that for every additional 5 grams of sugar consumed in liquid form per day, cancer incidence increased by 8 percent. People with the highest intake experienced a 46 percent increase.

A can of soda usually contains 30 to 45 grams of sugar.

A shift in a population’s sugar consumption can significantly affect cancer rates. Lewis Cantley, a well-known biologist and professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, used Taiwan as an example in an email to The Epoch Times. He wrote that before World War II, Taiwan had relatively low rates of cancers, including colon, endometrial, and breast. That was when sugar-sweetened beverages were scarce. Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, with the introduction of Western diets—particularly sugary drinks—cancer rates there steadily began to rise. They’ve now reached a level comparable to those in the United States.

Soft drinks on shelves in Riga, Latvia. Sugary drinks are prevalent across the world. (Tanya Keisha/Shutterstock)

Cancer cells require a substantial amount of glucose to survive. In the 1930s, Otto Warburg, a German biochemist, discovered that both cancer cells and normal cells require sugar, but their metabolic pathways differ: Normal cells primarily convert glucose into energy through aerobic respiration, while cancer cells obtain energy through glycolysis instead of using oxygen.

Cancer cells produce very little and inefficient energy due to their unique method of metabolizing sugar, which is why they voraciously consume sugar—at a rate 200 times faster than normal cells. That appetite can have wide-ranging effects.

Cancer cells consume sugar at a rate 200 times faster than normal cells. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

“Cancer cells, in some sense, hijack metabolic processes in the body,” Lorenzo Cohen, professor and director of the integrative medicine program at MD Anderson Cancer Center and author of “Anticancer Living,” told The Epoch Times.

Sugar–Obesity–Cancer: A Prevailing Theory

“The relationship between sugar and cancer is a complicated one,” said Dr. Jeremy Kortmansky, associate professor of medical oncology at the Yale School of Medicine and clinical director of the Division of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at the Yale Cancer Center.

The prevailing theory is that sugar doesn’t directly cause cancer but rather indirectly contributes to it through obesity.

High energy intake, or too many calories, and low energy expenditure are primary risk factors for many types of cancer, Ellen Kampman, a nutritional epidemiologist and chair in nutrition and disease at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, told The Epoch Times. A high sugar intake in the diet increases energy intake.

“Keeping a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to prevent cancer,” she said.

prospective study with over 35,000 participants revealed that people who consumed sugar-sweetened soft drinks more than once per day had an 18 percent increased risk of developing obesity-related cancers than those who rarely consumed such drinks.

comprehensive review published in Cancers in 2023 indicated that about 48 percent of cancer cases are attributed to obesity. Obesity is linked to 13 types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, liver, stomach, and thyroid.

A high-sugar diet can lead to the accumulation of body fat, especially visceral fat. Scientists recognize that the role of fat goes beyond energy storage; it acts as a highly active endocrine organ capable of secreting various substances, including hormones. Excessive fat can lead to an imbalance of these substances, contributing to cancer development.

Fat cells in adipose tissue (magnification 250x). (Ed Reschke/Getty Images)

However, there are many other ways that sugar could contribute to cancer, according to experts and various studies.

A Challenging Problem

Proving a direct link between eating sugar and cancer is challenging because of ethical concerns and practical difficulties in conducting such experiments.

“I certainly would not want my children to be in such a trial,” said Mr. Cantley, whose work has significantly impacted cancer cell biology.

Nevertheless, prospective cohort studies—a type of observational study focused on following a particular group of people over a period of time without interfering with their eating habits—can provide valuable insights into the relationship between sugar intake and cancer risk.

One such study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2020, tracked over 100,000 French adults for several years. Those who consumed the most sugar had a 17 percent increased cancer risk compared to those with the lowest sugar intake. This elevated risk was particularly notable for breast cancer, with a 51 percent increase.

This association remained significant even after adjusting for factors such as weight gain and body mass index. The study suggested that sugar may increase cancer risk through mechanisms other than just weight gain.

The Many Ways Sugar May Lead to Cancer

Processed sugar is a potent energy source. Beyond weight gain, it causes a variety of changes in your body that increase cancer risk.

Alters Metabolism

“Another mechanism through which sugar increases the risk of cancer is its impact on metabolism,” Mr. Song said.

High sugar intake can alter the metabolic profile, triggering inflammation and insulin resistance, both risk factors for tumor development.

This is a major mechanism that causes cancer, independently of obesity, he said. Obese people are more prone to inflammation and insulin resistance, but these can also occur in lean individuals.

Sucrose, fructose, and refined carbohydrates cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels. To maintain sugar balance, the body must increase insulin accordingly, and “excess amounts of increased insulin are inflammatory,” according to Mr. Cohen.

Thomas Seyfried, a professor of biology at Boston College, told The Epoch Times that high blood sugar is linked to systemic inflammation, which can lead to mitochondrial damage and, ultimately, cancer.

Sugar causes a variety of changes in your body that ultimately lead to increased cancer risk. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

Triggers DNA MutationInflammation and insulin resistance can also directly promote mutations in cell genes, leading to alteration in cell behavior.

Mr. Song further explained that the normal cell life cycle is disrupted in such cases. Cells don’t undergo normal timely cell death, instead growing and proliferating without limits, fueling tumor development.

Many experiments have confirmed these mechanisms. For example, mutations of genes related to insulin signaling can contribute to tumor development in various tissues, increasing the risk of certain types of cancers, including breast, endometrial, and thyroid.

A study published in Cell Metabolism found that the likelihood of gene mutations leading to pancreatic cancer increases fivefold in a high-glucose environment compared to a normal one.

Affects Gut Microbiota

“Only in recent years have people started to recognize the significance of gut microbiota [in relation to cancer risk],” Mr. Song said.

Sugar can disrupt the structure and function of gut microbiota and replace beneficial bacteria with harmful ones, ultimately resulting in the development of tumors in the intestines and even elsewhere.

Mr. Song explained several mechanisms by which the gut microbiome affects tumor development. These have also been a focus of recent research.

Sugar can increase certain harmful bacteria, which produce carcinogenic proteins on their surfaces, leading to gene mutations and directly promoting tumor development. Some harmful gut bacteria can also affect metabolism, causing uncontrolled cell growth.

Additionally, certain gut bacteria can harm the immune system, compromising its surveillance function. They may also produce specific metabolites that, upon entering the bloodstream from the gut, induce inflammation and immune dysregulation at distant sites, ultimately contributing to the development of tumors in those areas.

Continue reading here…


(TLB) published this article by Flora Zhao via The Epoch Times as posted at ZH

Header featured image (edited) credit:  Candy w/fuse/org. ET article/(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

Emphasis added by (TLB)



Stay tuned to …


The Liberty Beacon Project is now expanding at a near exponential rate, and for this we are grateful and excited! But we must also be practical. For 7 years we have not asked for any donations, and have built this project with our own funds as we grew. We are now experiencing ever increasing growing pains due to the large number of websites and projects we represent. So we have just installed donation buttons on our websites and ask that you consider this when you visit them. Nothing is too small. We thank you for all your support and your considerations … (TLB)


Comment Policy: As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, or personal/abusive attacks on other users. This also applies to trolling, the use of more than one alias, or just intentional mischief. Enforcement of this policy is at the discretion of this websites administrators. Repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without prior warning.


Disclaimer: TLB websites contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, health, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.


Disclaimer: The information and opinions shared are for informational purposes only including, but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material are not intended as medical advice or instruction. Nothing mentioned is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

1 Comment on How Sugar Fuels Cancer In The Body

  1. Is Conventional Cancer Treatment a Crime Against Humanity?
    MAY 1, 2018

    Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer 1st Edition
    by Thomas Seyfried (Author)

    Biology of glucose metabolization in cancer cells
    Adewale Fadaka, Basiru Ajiboye, Oluwafemi Ojo, Olusola Adewale, Israel Olayide, Rosemary Emuowhochere
    Department of Biochemistry, College of Science, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria

    Cancer is a disease at the cellular level involving heritable disorders in cellular control mechanism. Cancer cells also need to adapt their metabolism to survive and multiply under the metabolically compromised conditions provided by the tumor microenvironment. Tumor cells alter their metabolism to maintain unregulated cellular proliferation and survival, but this transformation leaves them reliant on constant supply of nutrients and energy. They alter their metabolism to support their rapid proliferation and expansion across the body. After the discovery of based on the altered cancer cell metabolism in 1930, loads of studies have shed light on several aspects of cancer metabolism with a common goal to find new ways for effectively eliminating tumor cells by targeting their energy metabolism. Research has directed most of its resources to elucidate the causes, prevention and possible cure for cancer, yet the process has been elusive claiming human lives more than ever. This disease is a manifestation of etiological and pathological disturbances of mechanisms that control cell division, differentiation and metabolism. 50% of all human tumors carry genetic alterations that lead to the inactivation of some tumor suppressor proteins. Cancer cells are shown to experience characteristic changes in their metabolic programs, including increased uptake of glucose, enhanced rates of glutaminolysis and fatty acids synthesis, suggesting that metabolic shifts supports tumor cells growth and survival. In this review, we summarized the major concepts of glucose metabolization and explore the molecular basis of aerobic glycolysis of cancer cells.

    2.2 Low pH and Hypoxia
    Aerobic glycolysis is a hallmark property of the cancer cells where the cells rely on glycolytic pathways to meet their high demand for energy for growth and maintenance of the tumor (Talekar et al., 2014). Besides, rapid cell division outmatches the angiogenesis process to develop a proper vasculature for adequate oxygen supply to the deeper part of the tumor. In normal tissues, the pO2 ranges from 10 to 80 mm Hg depending on the tissue type and need, but this level falls below 5 mm Hg in certain areas of tumor tissue (Hockel and Vaupel, 2001). These two phenomenon leads to a low-pH microenvironment within the tumor due to accumulation of lactic acid (from glycolytic pathway) and heterogeneous regions of hypoxia, which in turn triggers unique molecular pathways that further facilitate drug resistance. This low-pH microenvironment has been utilized to design pH-responsive nanovectors that home into the tumor by EPR effect and release their payload in response to the lower pH (Iyer et al., 2013). Similarly, hypoxic biomilieu triggers the production of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), which plays the central role in acquisition of aerobic glycolysis as preferential molecular pathways and regulation of ATP-binding cassette transporters leading to drug resistance (Talekar et al., 2014; Comerford et al., 2002). Therefore, HIFs have been used as a highly successful molecular target for designing nanoparticle-based cancer therapeutics (Talekar et al., 2014).

    Why did they not say just eliminate all sugar and high carbohydrates? No, they are instead trying to develop a high dollar drug or other treatment. LH

    Does Sugar Fuel Cancer Cells?
    An intriguing idea with an eerie parallel in heart’s response to COVID-19 vaccines.

    Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism

    Biology of glucose metabolization in cancer cells

    Targeting insulin inhibition as a metabolic therapy in advanced cancer: a pilot safety and feasibility dietary trial in 10 patients

    5 Foods That Fight Cancer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.