Sugars and Cancer

      88 Comments on Sugars and Cancer

A reader asked me for some information on cancer and sugar, so I pulled up some items from my research database.  As long as I had the articles in front of me, I thought I’d share them.

Nothing listed here proves absolutely that sugars drive cancer or that a ketogenic diet will prevent cancer, but taken together, the articles do paint a picture.  Let’s take a look.

Cancer cells slurp up fructose, US study finds

Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that challenges the common wisdom that all sugars are the same.

Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles found.

They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.

“These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation,” Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.

“They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth.”

I found some suggested meal plans on the USDA’s official My Plate site, which I’ll share in another post.  Whole milk isn’t on the meal plan for breakfast, but orange juice and strawberry-flavored (i.e., sugary) skim milk are.  Remind me again … which of those drinks contains fructose and which doesn’t?

Compound That Blocks Sugar Pathway Slows Cancer Cell Growth

Scientists at Johns Hopkins have identified a compound that could be used to starve cancers of their sugar-based building blocks. The compound, called a glutaminase inhibitor, has been tested on laboratory-cultured, sugar-hungry brain cancer cells and, the scientists say, may have the potential to be used for many types of primary brain tumors.

The Johns Hopkins scientists, inventors on patent applications related to the discovery, caution that glutaminase inhibitors have not been tested in animals or humans, but their findings may spark new interest in the glutaminase pathway as a target for new therapies.

Glutaminase is an enzyme that controls how glucose-based nutrients are converted into the carbon skeleton of a cell. Additional enzymes that help construct the so-called “bricks” of the carbon skeleton are controlled by a gene called IDH1. In some brain cancer cells, IDH1 is mutated and the resulting enzyme grinds up the bricks into nutrients that feed cancer cells.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking:  if blocking the glucose pathway slows cancer growth, why not just tell people to stop eating foods that spike glucose?  Well, I’m pretty sure the answer lies in the fact that scientists have applied for patents.  You can’t patent dietary advice, but you can patent a drug.

Diabetes Medication May Get New Life as Cancer Treatment

The drug metformin, a mainstay of diabetes care for 15 years, may have a new life as a cancer treatment, researchers said.

In a study in mice, low doses of the drug, combined with a widely used chemotherapy called doxorubicin, shrank breast-cancer tumors and prevented their recurrence more effectively than chemotherapy alone.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence that metformin, marketed as Glucophage by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and available in generic versions, could be a potent antitumor medicine.

In the report, being published in the Oct. 1 edition of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers said the combination of metformin and doxorubicin killed both regular cancer cells and cancer stem cells.

In contrast, doxorubicin alone had limited effect on the stem cells.

Mice that grew tumors generated from human breast-cancer cells have remained tumor-free for nearly three months on the combined treatment, while tumors have recurred in those not given the diabetes remedy.

Researchers said the results have potentially broad implications for cancer treatment.

Hmmm, now why would a drug given to type 2 diabetics be effective against cancer?  You have to read pretty far down the article to find out:

How metformin affects cancer isn’t certain, but one possibility is that it deprives tumor cells of sugar.

“Cancer cells are gluttons for glucose,” said George Prendergast, president and chief executive officer of Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Wynnewood, Pa. “It is likely that metformin is taking advantage of this gluttony of the cancer cell in order to attack it.”

Cancer cells are gluttons for glucose … I’ll be sure to think about when I’m drinking my USDA-approved skim milk with added sugar.

Dietary glycemic load and colorectal cancer risk

The link above is to an observational study based on food questionnaires, so it doesn’t exactly meet the gold standard for research.  Nonetheless, here’s the conclusion:

The positive associations of glycemic index and load with colorectal cancer suggest a detrimental role of refined carbohydrates in the etiology of the disease.

The next time some vegan zealot trots out an observational study showing a weak association between meat and cancer, you can reply with this one and explain that since glycemic load is strongly associated with colorectal cancer, you’re sticking with a low-glycemic diet – meat included.  If the vegan zealot starts quoting the China Study, you can reply with this (sort of) China study of Chinese Americans:

Carbohydrates and colorectal cancer risk among Chinese in North America

Here’s the conclusion:

These data indicate that increased eCarb (non-fiber carb) and total carbohydrate consumption are both associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer in both sexes, and that among women, relative risk appears greatest for the right colon, whereas among men, relative risk appears greatest for the rectum.

So get T. Colin Campbell’s high-carb diet out of my face.

Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism

This one isn’t a study; it’s a case report from 1995 of two pediatric cancer patients put on ketogenic diets.  Here are some quotes from the abstact:

OBJECTIVE: Establish dietary-induced ketosis in pediatric oncology patients to determine if a ketogenic state would decrease glucose availability to certain tumors, thereby potentially impairing tumor metabolism without adversely affecting the patient’s overall nutritional status.

So all the way back in 1995, at least some doctors suspected that depriving cancers of glucose might help.  Sheesh.  Anyway …

RESULTS:  Within 7 days of initiating the ketogenic diet, blood glucose levels declined to low-normal levels and blood ketones were elevated twenty to thirty fold. Results of PET scans indicated a 21.8% average decrease in glucose uptake at the tumor site in both subjects. One patient exhibited significant clinical improvements in mood and new skill development during the study. She continued the ketogenic diet for an additional twelve months, remaining free of disease progression.

Improvements in mood and skill development?  No, no, no … low-carb diets make you depressed and irritable.  I know that’s true, because I read it on Yahoo Health.

Glucose deprivation activates feedback loop that kills cancer cells

Compared to normal cells, cancer cells have a prodigious appetite for glucose, the result of a shift in cell metabolism known as aerobic glycolysis or the “Warburg effect.” Researchers focusing on this effect as a possible target for cancer therapies have examined how biochemical signals present in cancer cells regulate the altered metabolic state.

Now, in a unique study, a UCLA research team led by Thomas Graeber, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, has investigated the reverse aspect: how the metabolism of glucose affects the biochemical signals present in cancer cells.

In research published June 26 in the journal Molecular Systems Biology, Graeber and his colleagues demonstrate that glucose starvation — that is, depriving cancer cells of glucose —activates a metabolic and signaling amplification loop that leads to cancer cell death as a result of the toxic accumulation of reactive oxygen species, the cell-damaging molecules and ions targeted by antioxidants like vitamin C.

Hey, I don’t care if it’s an amplification loop that does the job or if the cancer cells just die off from a lack of fuel.  The point is, once again we see that depriving cancer cells of sugars can kill them.

Keep starving those cancer cells, folks.

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88 thoughts on “Sugars and Cancer

  1. gollum

    I don’t think pure fructose goes any other pathways either but as Tom hinted at, it’s a question of concentration.
    I suppose stuffing your face with let’s say 3 lbs of oranges any day is not *very* much better (yo the purine golly!),
    however with fruit and possibly some other things eaten in between
    you have to chew it, your intestines have to process it, wiggle it around, to get the fructose even out of the fruit pulp matrix.
    This is in effect rate-limiting, like eating 200 g of rice accompanying a huge steak meal, compared to drinking 200 g glucose.

    Already if you pre-digest the fruit into juice, the rate limit is gone.

    Fruit also tends to be available during 2 months in summer, then not as much, unless you’re stupid enough to pay a premium to have strawberries in November. Yay healthy lifestyle. See my “endless summer” pet theory.

    In fruit, other nice micronutritients come with it, some of which may offset some of the damage; also glucose is commonly accompanying fructose, which a) gives you about only 60% of fructose for the same sweetness and b) may actually help processing it in the liver, which I hear, actually depletes some energy sources (the overall balance is positive of course)
    That’s not the case if you use isolated fructose. Guess which people were told to use this. Three guesses and “diasthenics” don’t count.

    Reply
  2. Jim Butler

    Quick update O/T…
    I just put on my first pair of 36″ waist jeans in over 10yrs 😉 Down from 44″. This site is a great contributor to that result.

    Thanks Tom and all who contribute.

    Jim

    Outstanding, Jim.

    Reply
  3. JEY

    Tom, that is a perfect way to introduce the information, I wish you had been my friend seven years ago. Instead I followed the heavily promoted “Cancer Project Diet” backed by the vegan PCRM. I don’t blame overwhelmed oncologists who just hand out their glossy brochure or the low fat guidelines from the ACS. As you said in a speech, any change will need be a crowd sourced effort to share the benefits of a low carb diet, and that includes possible cancer control.

    I gained 55 pounds on the Cancer Project plan with all those carby protein substitutes. Too much organic hearty oatmeal and bean dishes galore because I could not use soy. Reading the Gary Taubes GC,BC chapter quoted above started me on the road to low carb paleo. It took a few months more of reading all I could find on the subject of cancer and diet, before doing a nutritional about face in August 2010.

    Kathy, at three years post treatment, I had the time and interest to dig into the science. But at the time of diagnosis, your friend is likely overwhelmed with more immediate decisions and long term nutrition is a low priority. But I would have appreciated an email from a friend who distilled some of the studies for me, and may have at least given more consideration to the impact of my diet choice rather than following the first brochure handed to me.
    Dr. Champ’s keto intro is good http://www.cavemandoctor.com/2013/01/01/an-introduction-a-ketogenic-diet-for-cancer/ Dr. Edes wrote with more detail:
    http://diagnosisdiet.com/what-causes-cancer/

    Reply
  4. Cristina

    As an RN (Renegade Nurse!), I am constantly shaking my head at the establishment. I work in an outpatient oncology unit and the resident oncologist and her entourage eat [fat-free!] candies and jelly beans all day long. The food offered to patients is fat-free or low-fat, chemical-laden, processed, sugar-loaded “food stuffs”. Graham crackers, Lorna Doone “butter” cookies, Jello-brand jello, sugary yogurts and sodas and juices. And if that ain’t bad enough, the American Cancer Society has a program called “Survive and Thrive” which promotes the standard dogma, ensuring people are “informed” that butter, saturated fats, and meats are pro-inflammatory and pro-cancer. (According to them, grains are anti-inflammatory, so make sure you eat plenty.)
    Keeping people sick and getting sicker so that they stay in the system.

    “Wealth made in medical science is always contaminated, as it comes from the suffering of others.” Ayurveda documentary.

    Jeez. Even if they’re unaware of the link between sugar and cancer, hasn’t it occurred to anyone that candies aren’t good for patients in other ways?

    Reply
  5. Jim Butler

    Quick update O/T…
    I just put on my first pair of 36″ waist jeans in over 10yrs 😉 Down from 44″. This site is a great contributor to that result.

    Thanks Tom and all who contribute.

    Jim

    Outstanding, Jim.

    Reply
  6. Kathy

    Thanks for your input on this difficult situation. My email draft actually prefaces the links with something similar. I just want her to be well.

    Reply
  7. JEY

    Tom, that is a perfect way to introduce the information, I wish you had been my friend seven years ago. Instead I followed the heavily promoted “Cancer Project Diet” backed by the vegan PCRM. I don’t blame overwhelmed oncologists who just hand out their glossy brochure or the low fat guidelines from the ACS. As you said in a speech, any change will need be a crowd sourced effort to share the benefits of a low carb diet, and that includes possible cancer control.

    I gained 55 pounds on the Cancer Project plan with all those carby protein substitutes. Too much organic hearty oatmeal and bean dishes galore because I could not use soy. Reading the Gary Taubes GC,BC chapter quoted above started me on the road to low carb paleo. It took a few months more of reading all I could find on the subject of cancer and diet, before doing a nutritional about face in August 2010.

    Kathy, at three years post treatment, I had the time and interest to dig into the science. But at the time of diagnosis, your friend is likely overwhelmed with more immediate decisions and long term nutrition is a low priority. But I would have appreciated an email from a friend who distilled some of the studies for me, and may have at least given more consideration to the impact of my diet choice rather than following the first brochure handed to me.
    Dr. Champ’s keto intro is good http://www.cavemandoctor.com/2013/01/01/an-introduction-a-ketogenic-diet-for-cancer/ Dr. Edes wrote with more detail:
    http://diagnosisdiet.com/what-causes-cancer/

    Reply
  8. Kathy

    JEY – thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Hearing from someone who has “been there” has helped me choose to go ahead and send her the info – with a promise not to bring it up again – leaving the ball in her court, as they say.

    Reply
  9. Galina L.

    I was very unhappy after applying the anty-inflammatory diet recommended by Dr. Andrew Weill , also a member of PCRM. it caused me 26 lb of a weight gain during one year and worsening of all medical conditions, more frequent flues and infections. The diet required elimination of a red meat and saturated fats, sugar,but more tofu, chicken breasts,beans, whole grains, fruit and veggies. I am on a LC diet since Nov.2007.

    Reply
  10. Cristina

    As an RN (Renegade Nurse!), I am constantly shaking my head at the establishment. I work in an outpatient oncology unit and the resident oncologist and her entourage eat [fat-free!] candies and jelly beans all day long. The food offered to patients is fat-free or low-fat, chemical-laden, processed, sugar-loaded “food stuffs”. Graham crackers, Lorna Doone “butter” cookies, Jello-brand jello, sugary yogurts and sodas and juices. And if that ain’t bad enough, the American Cancer Society has a program called “Survive and Thrive” which promotes the standard dogma, ensuring people are “informed” that butter, saturated fats, and meats are pro-inflammatory and pro-cancer. (According to them, grains are anti-inflammatory, so make sure you eat plenty.)
    Keeping people sick and getting sicker so that they stay in the system.

    “Wealth made in medical science is always contaminated, as it comes from the suffering of others.” Ayurveda documentary.

    Jeez. Even if they’re unaware of the link between sugar and cancer, hasn’t it occurred to anyone that candies aren’t good for patients in other ways?

    Reply
  11. Kathy

    Thanks for your input on this difficult situation. My email draft actually prefaces the links with something similar. I just want her to be well.

    Reply
  12. Kathy

    JEY – thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Hearing from someone who has “been there” has helped me choose to go ahead and send her the info – with a promise not to bring it up again – leaving the ball in her court, as they say.

    Reply
  13. Galina L.

    I was very unhappy after applying the anty-inflammatory diet recommended by Dr. Andrew Weill , also a member of PCRM. it caused me 26 lb of a weight gain during one year and worsening of all medical conditions, more frequent flues and infections. The diet required elimination of a red meat and saturated fats, sugar,but more tofu, chicken breasts,beans, whole grains, fruit and veggies. I am on a LC diet since Nov.2007.

    Reply
  14. Kristin

    I just got back from a camping work party weekend clearing land for the community. There was a couple there I had not met before. Very friendly. I met the man first. He offered me potato salad which I declined. I said I didn’t really eat potatoes. That initiated a discussion about our diets. He had become a raw vegan a few years ago and just loves his diet. Says he feels better than he ever has. His girlfriend got him on the diet. Then he says he has heart disease and can’t really exercise for getting out of breath too easily. He then hastens to mention that is isn’t the diet, though. The diet is great. I don’t think he had heard of a LC/HF diet before because he seemed rather puzzled at what I ate. But he was tactful and pleasant.

    Then his girlfriend came out of the trailer…a breast cancer ball cap covering her bald head and her t-shirt baggy over an emaciated body. Yes, she is currently in aggressive chemo treatment for breast cancer…and a long time vegan.

    I have to admit I was a bit stunned. I was thinking to myself “Geez guys. Do you have to be such perfect poster children for everything I’ve been studying?” The next morning the camp kitchen served pancakes and pancake syrup and someone had generously brought several boxes of donuts. I just pulled out the jar of egg salad I brought for myself. That stuff doesn’t even tempt me anymore. I did notice the woman with cancer eating a plate of pancakes. It just made me ache inside.

    Head. Bang. On. Desk.

    Reminds of a vegan friend of mine in L.A. who also loved her diet, but had to undergo major dental surgery because she’d lost half the bone mass in her jaw. I wanted to shake her and yell, “For Pete’s sake, woman, eat a steak!”

    Reply
  15. Kristin

    I just got back from a camping work party weekend clearing land for the community. There was a couple there I had not met before. Very friendly. I met the man first. He offered me potato salad which I declined. I said I didn’t really eat potatoes. That initiated a discussion about our diets. He had become a raw vegan a few years ago and just loves his diet. Says he feels better than he ever has. His girlfriend got him on the diet. Then he says he has heart disease and can’t really exercise for getting out of breath too easily. He then hastens to mention that is isn’t the diet, though. The diet is great. I don’t think he had heard of a LC/HF diet before because he seemed rather puzzled at what I ate. But he was tactful and pleasant.

    Then his girlfriend came out of the trailer…a breast cancer ball cap covering her bald head and her t-shirt baggy over an emaciated body. Yes, she is currently in aggressive chemo treatment for breast cancer…and a long time vegan.

    I have to admit I was a bit stunned. I was thinking to myself “Geez guys. Do you have to be such perfect poster children for everything I’ve been studying?” The next morning the camp kitchen served pancakes and pancake syrup and someone had generously brought several boxes of donuts. I just pulled out the jar of egg salad I brought for myself. That stuff doesn’t even tempt me anymore. I did notice the woman with cancer eating a plate of pancakes. It just made me ache inside.

    Head. Bang. On. Desk.

    Reminds of a vegan friend of mine in L.A. who also loved her diet, but had to undergo major dental surgery because she’d lost half the bone mass in her jaw. I wanted to shake her and yell, “For Pete’s sake, woman, eat a steak!”

    Reply
  16. Tammy

    Tom – You don’t know how timely this post is for me. My 34 year old sister is getting ready to start chemotherapy tomorrow (4/2) and on my advice about two months ago she changed her diet when she first found out about the cancer. She switched to a whole foods diet but now I am trying to get her to go full blown ketogenic for at least next several weeks. I want to give her every chance possible to get better. I’m not telling her to not have the treatment, but I’m trying to convince her to give herself the best possible chance of it being successful. I truly believe changing her diet would do just that.

    Thanks !

    I wish your sister a full recovery.

    Reply
  17. Liz

    Galina, I followed a similar diet and was about 20 lbs overweight as a result. Very hard time building muscle, too. I even got my thyroid checked (it was normal), so I new it had to be my diet. Very frustrating when naturally lean vegans/vegetarians brag about their superior diet. Now I just say, “Show me your before picture.” Then they have to admit to not having a weight problem to begin with, like those authors of Skinny Bitch.

    Reply
  18. Tammy

    Tom – You don’t know how timely this post is for me. My 34 year old sister is getting ready to start chemotherapy tomorrow (4/2) and on my advice about two months ago she changed her diet when she first found out about the cancer. She switched to a whole foods diet but now I am trying to get her to go full blown ketogenic for at least next several weeks. I want to give her every chance possible to get better. I’m not telling her to not have the treatment, but I’m trying to convince her to give herself the best possible chance of it being successful. I truly believe changing her diet would do just that.

    Thanks !

    I wish your sister a full recovery.

    Reply
  19. Liz

    Galina, I followed a similar diet and was about 20 lbs overweight as a result. Very hard time building muscle, too. I even got my thyroid checked (it was normal), so I new it had to be my diet. Very frustrating when naturally lean vegans/vegetarians brag about their superior diet. Now I just say, “Show me your before picture.” Then they have to admit to not having a weight problem to begin with, like those authors of Skinny Bitch.

    Reply
  20. Ron Keith

    Doctors sometimes use a PET scan to get a good image of the cancer cells. The patient is fasted for a period of time, which slows the tumor activity. Then the patient is given a large amount of radioactive glucose to get the tumor very active. Presto, they get a good image.

    If this isn’t proof sugar feeds cancer, I do not know what is. How can doctors claim otherwise?

    Hard to believe they haven’t put two and two together.

    Reply
  21. Galina L.

    @Tammy’
    I just wanted to pass on you to article Short-Term Fasting Before Chemotherapy in Treating Patients With Cancer http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01175837,

    and another one is about the combining of ketogenic diet with traditional methods of cancer treatment http://www.thebarrow.org/Research/Neuro_Oncology/213930, according to the article, “the /ketogenic/diet may enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy”.
    At the end of the article it was said “Dr. Scheck notes that the rigors of the diet can make it unappealing. “With the ketogenic diet, you face the same dilemma that patients sometimes face with traditional chemotherapy and radiation, that is, just how detrimental the therapy is to the patient’s quality of life,” she says.”

    Apparently, Dr.Scheck thought that ketogenic diet was as bad for a quality of life as a chemotherapy.

    Reply
  22. Ron Keith

    Doctors sometimes use a PET scan to get a good image of the cancer cells. The patient is fasted for a period of time, which slows the tumor activity. Then the patient is given a large amount of radioactive glucose to get the tumor very active. Presto, they get a good image.

    If this isn’t proof sugar feeds cancer, I do not know what is. How can doctors claim otherwise?

    Hard to believe they haven’t put two and two together.

    Reply
  23. Galina L.

    @Tammy’
    I just wanted to pass on you to article Short-Term Fasting Before Chemotherapy in Treating Patients With Cancer http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01175837,

    and another one is about the combining of ketogenic diet with traditional methods of cancer treatment http://www.thebarrow.org/Research/Neuro_Oncology/213930, according to the article, “the /ketogenic/diet may enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy”.
    At the end of the article it was said “Dr. Scheck notes that the rigors of the diet can make it unappealing. “With the ketogenic diet, you face the same dilemma that patients sometimes face with traditional chemotherapy and radiation, that is, just how detrimental the therapy is to the patient’s quality of life,” she says.”

    Apparently, Dr.Scheck thought that ketogenic diet was as bad for a quality of life as a chemotherapy.

    Reply
  24. JEY

    If you define a “ketogenic diet” as one that results in Dr. Thomas Seyfried’s “zone of metabolic managment for cancer” or glucose of 55-65mg and blood ketones of 2.5-7mm, that diet is rather rigorous with high fat intake and almost no carbs. The more common definition of a “ketogenic diet” as one with less than 50g total carbs, resulting in blood ketones over .5mm, can easily be part of a high quality of life. The KetoNutrition website is another good resource that discusses the difference on its first page with links to how to acheive true metabolic managment: http://ketonutrition.blogspot.com/2013/03/cancer-diagnosis-what-treatment-options.html

    Reply
  25. Rocky Angelucci

    If there’s any remaining doubt that cancer cells love glucose, just take a look at the contrast agent employed when detecting cancer using a PET scan: radioactive glucose.

    The procedure is simple:

    1) Start glucose IV
    2) Run PET scan
    3) Bright spots on scan are cells that gobbled up glucose and are principal suspects for cancer

    Reply
  26. Rocky Angelucci

    If there’s any remaining doubt that cancer cells love glucose, just take a look at the contrast agent employed when detecting cancer using a PET scan: radioactive glucose.

    The procedure is simple:

    1) Start glucose IV
    2) Run PET scan
    3) Bright spots on scan are cells that gobbled up glucose and are principal suspects for cancer

    Reply
  27. Brenda

    Directly from the Mayo Clinic website:

    Myth: People with cancer shouldn’t eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.

    Fact: Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn’t speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn’t slow their growth.

    This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn’t true.

    *So, tumors use sugar, but it doesn’t cause them to grow.

    I wonder if they’ll change their tune now that pilot studies are showing that ketogenic diets put some cancers in remission.

    Reply
  28. Brenda

    Directly from the Mayo Clinic website:

    Myth: People with cancer shouldn’t eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.

    Fact: Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn’t speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn’t slow their growth.

    This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn’t true.

    *So, tumors use sugar, but it doesn’t cause them to grow.

    I wonder if they’ll change their tune now that pilot studies are showing that ketogenic diets put some cancers in remission.

    Reply
  29. gollum

    Revisited the post after reading about glutamine on Wheat Belly Blog.
    Glutamine btw. is not a sugar, it’s an amino acid.

    Uncle’s pet theory seems to go like this. In DM2 cell is insulin resistant. Cell starves swimming in sugar. Cell goes into panic mode and turns to glutaminolysis. Glutaminolysis makes lots of bad compounds mutating cell. Cell goes cancer. The end.
    That’s very interesting, even more so in regards to the glutaminolysis blocking drug, above.

    There’s just one problem with that theory: cells can indeed take up (a bit of) glucose without insulin, by osmosis (I hear lots of cells like nervous system are not insulin dependent at all). The “need insulin to use glucose” is oversimplified PR from, uh, insulin PR. I mean, education. Insulin is in the big picture more for protecting your body from BG (in healthy subject, 60..100 even if cells certainly wouldn’t starve at 300) and anabolic phase into glycogen storage, fat pad and muscles.

    Reply
  30. gollum

    Revisited the post after reading about glutamine on Wheat Belly Blog.
    Glutamine btw. is not a sugar, it’s an amino acid.

    Uncle’s pet theory seems to go like this. In DM2 cell is insulin resistant. Cell starves swimming in sugar. Cell goes into panic mode and turns to glutaminolysis. Glutaminolysis makes lots of bad compounds mutating cell. Cell goes cancer. The end.
    That’s very interesting, even more so in regards to the glutaminolysis blocking drug, above.

    There’s just one problem with that theory: cells can indeed take up (a bit of) glucose without insulin, by osmosis (I hear lots of cells like nervous system are not insulin dependent at all). The “need insulin to use glucose” is oversimplified PR from, uh, insulin PR. I mean, education. Insulin is in the big picture more for protecting your body from BG (in healthy subject, 60..100 even if cells certainly wouldn’t starve at 300) and anabolic phase into glycogen storage, fat pad and muscles.

    Reply

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