Sugar and cancer

  • Health
  • Sunday, 06 Apr 2003

THOUGH the current issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology (March 2003;98:471-477) tells of seemingly spectacular advances in the screening and treatment of colon cancer, people continue to die from the disease at the same rate as in the late 1980s. Let us look specifically at colon cancer based on data from 1986 and 1997 studying 144,284 individuals with the disease in the United States.  

During this time, the annual number of cases of colon cancer decreased. However, the drop was skewed toward white men. The rates were unchanged among African Americans. Sadly, five year survival rates did not improve for any race. 

Researchers concluded that despite advances in screening and treatment of the disease, no benefit in survival has occurred to date. 

Good foods 

In spite of this, the nutritional approach of boosting the immune system and paralysing the cancer cell has been ignored. For example, the simple concept “sugar feeds cancer” has been overlooked as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Cancer sufferers are hardly offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to “just eat good foods.” What is “good food” is seldom clearly spelt out to desperate patients.  

The odds of cancer survival improve dramatically if the supply of cancer’s preferred fuel –glucose – can be controlled. By slowing the cancer’s growth, patients allow their immune systems a better chance. Controlling blood glucose levels through diet, supplements, exercise, meditation and prescription drugs, can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer recovery programme.  

The 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine, German Otto Warburg, first discovered that cancer cells have a different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. Malignant tumours frequently exhibit an increase in anaerobic glycolysis – a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel with lactic acid as an anaerobic byproduct – compared to normal tissues.  

Preferred fuel 

Large amounts of lactic acid are produced by this fermentation of glucose from cancer cells. This conversion of glucose to lactate generates a lower, more acidic pH in cancerous tissues. Thus, larger tumours tend to exhibit a more acidic pH. This also results in overall physical fatigue from lactic acid build-up.  

In a way, the cancer is “wasting” energy making the patient tired and undernourished. This increases body wasting. It is one reason why 40% of cancer patients die from malnutrition, or cachexia (rapid weight loss).  

Hence, cancer therapies should encompass regulating blood-glucose levels by means of diet, supplements, solutions for patients who lose their appetite, medication, exercise, gradual weight loss and stress reduction. Professional guidance and patient self-discipline are crucial. Blood glucose should be tightly controlled to help starve the cancer while boosting the immune function.  

Sugar load 

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. 

In other words, there is a “window of efficacy” for glucose in the blood: levels too low make one feel lethargic and can create clinical hypoglycemia; levels too high start creating the rippling effect of diabetic health problems. Excess blood glucose may initiate yeast overgrowth, blood vessel deterioration, heart disease and other health conditions. 

The 1997 American Diabetes Association blood-glucose standards consider 126mg glucose/dL blood or greater to be diabetic; 111 to 125 mg/dL is impaired glucose tolerance and less than 110 mg/dL is considered normal. Meanwhile, the caveman diet of our ancestors, which consisted of lean meats, vegetables and small amounts of whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits, is estimated to have generated blood glucose levels between 60 and 90 mg/dL.  

A rat story 

Understanding and using the glycemic index is an important aspect of diet modification for cancer patients. However, there is also evidence that sugars may feed cancer more efficiently than starches (comprised of long chains of simple sugars), making the index slightly misleading. A study of rats fed diets with equal calories from sugars and starches, for example, found the animals on the high-sugar diet developed more cases of breast cancer.  

This is because the glycemic index rating of a sugary food may be lower than that of a starchy food. To be safe, I recommend less fruit, more vegetables, and little to no refined sugars in the diet of cancer patients.  

A mouse model of human breast cancer demonstrated that tumours are sensitive to blood-glucose levels. Sixty-eight mice were injected with an aggressive strain of breast cancer, then fed diets to induce either high blood-sugar (hyperglycemia), normoglycemia or low blood-sugar (hypoglycemia). There was a dose-dependent response in which the lower the blood glucose, the greater the survival rate. After 70 days, eight of 24 hyperglycemic mice survived compared to 16 of 24 normoglycemic and 19 of 20 hypoglycemic.  


Simply put: regulating sugar intake is key to slowing breast tumour growth. In a human study, 10 healthy people were assessed for fasting blood-glucose levels and the phagocytic index of neutrophils, which measures immune-cell ability to envelop and destroy invaders such as cancer. Eating 100g carbohydrates from glucose, sucrose, honey and orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria. Starch did not have this effect. 

A four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 controls. Cancer risk associated with the intake of sugars, independent of other energy sources, more than doubled for the cancer patients.  

Furthermore, an epidemiological study in 21 countries that keeps track of morbidity and mortality (Europe, North America, Japan and others) revealed that sugar intake is a strong risk factor that contributes to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.  

Rocket fuel 

Since cancer cells derive most of their energy from anaerobic glycolysis, Joseph Gold, M.D., director of the Syracuse (N.Y.) Cancer Research Institute and former US Air Force research physician, surmised that a chemical called hydrazine sulphate, used in rocket fuel, could inhibit the excessive gluconeogenesis (making sugar from amino acids) that occurs in cachectic cancer patients.  

Gold’s work demonstrated hydrazine sulphate’s ability to slow and reverse cachexia in advanced cancer patients. A placebo-controlled trial followed 101 cancer patients taking either 6mg hydrazine sulphate three times/day or placebo. After one month, 83% of hydrazine sulphate patients increased their weight, compared to 53% on placebo. 

A similar study by the same principal researchers, partly funded by the US National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, followed 65 patients. Those who took hydrazine sulphate and were in good physical condition before the study began lived an average of 17 weeks longer.  

Tumour formation 

The medical establishment may be missing the connection between sugar and its role in tumour genesis. Consider the million-dollar positive emission tomography device, or PET scan, regarded as one of the ultimate cancer-detection tools. PET scans use radioactively labelled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumour cells. PET scans are used to plot the progress of cancer patients and to assess whether present protocols are effective.  

In Europe, the “sugar feeds cancer” concept is so well accepted that oncologists, or cancer doctors, use the Systemic Cancer Multistep Therapy (SCMT) protocol. Conceived by Manfred von Ardenne in Germany in 1965, SCMT entails injecting patients with glucose to increase blood-glucose concentrations. This lowers pH values in cancer tissues via lactic acid formation. In turn, this intensifies the thermal sensitivity of the malignant tumours and also induces rapid growth of the cancer. Patients are then given whole-body hyperthermia (42 C core temperature) to further stress the cancer cells, followed by chemotherapy or radiation. 

Increased survival 

SCMT was tested on 103 patients with metastasised cancer or recurrent primary tumours in a clinical phase-I study at the Von Ardenne Institute of Applied Medical Research in Dresden, Germany. Five-year survival rates in SCMT-treated patients increased by 25% to 50%, and the complete rate of tumour regression increased by 3% to 50%.  

The protocol induces rapid growth of the cancer, then treats the tumour with toxic therapies for a dramatic improvement in outcome.  

Cancer cells use only sugar to fund their horrible growth. That is why you hear of all types of cancers except that of the heart. You never hear of cancers spreading to the heart. The heart does not use sugar for metabolism. As the heart is an energy intensive organ, fat is used as the source of fuel. Thus, cancer cannot develop or spread there. 

Got cancer? Want to avoid cancer? Cut the sugar. – LAT-WP 

  • Rajen. M is a pharmacist with a doctorate in Holistic Medicine. You can write to him at . The views expressed are those of the writer and readers are advised to always consult expert advice before undertaking any changes to their lifestyles. 

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