06 September 2012

Sugar and Cancer

I already mentioned before (Africa, India, Native Americans, the Inuit) that in isolated populations the number of cancer cases increased after the adoption of a Western diet, which usually replaced the local fish, meat, vegetables, fruits with more refined carbohydrates and sugar.

I also explained how cancer cells are able to multiply when sugar, insulin and IGF (Insulin-like growth factor, needed for cell growth) are present in the bloodstream. Cancer cells have more receptors for IGF than normal cells. So cancer cells have an advantage compared to normal cells for growth and proliferation. 

In laboratory animals, shutting down IGF receptors on cancer cells, leads to "strong inhibition, if not total suppression of tumor [growth]" (- Renato Baserga, Thomas Jefferson University). The only way to lower sugar, insulin and IGF in our body is by adopting a low carbohydrates/sugar diet. 

To diagnose cancer and to see which organs have been attacked by this disease, doctors use a PET Scan. When using a PET Scan a technician will give a cancer patient a solution of radioactive glucose (= sugar; i.e. a radioactive tracer or tagged glucose). Since cancer cells consume 15 times more glucose than normal cells, the cancer cells will absorb 15 times more of this radioactive glucose than normal cells. The result is that when they do the PET Scan the cancer cells show up in the X-Ray.

Cancer loves sugar.

We all have cancer cells in our bodies at all times. This genetic damage is unavoidable. However, the development of this nurturing ground (high sugar, insulin, IGF) for cancer, depends on our lifestyle.

So if doctors KNOW that cancer cells absorb sugar (glucose) in order to multiply, my question is, why a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates is still not recommended by physicians. To me it makes sense to tell cancer patients to do everything to cut out sugar and carbohydrates completely from their diet. They might have a higher chance for recovery, or at least to prolong life.

Here is a panel discussion focused on the connection between cancer and obesity and what we can do about it. (Obesity is also linked to high refined carbohydrates and sugar consumption.)


  1. Oh this post makes me sad. My best friend (who is a nurse) has had cancer for 6 years. Everytime it goes, it pops up somewhere else. Now it is again in her brain. The trouble is she loves sweet food and sugar - more since she has had cancer! I told her the dangers of this and she had absolutely no idea. No one has ever told her and it is not for me to tell her now how to live her life.

    Because it is not a cure, there is really nothing more I can do for her but for me - you can be sure carbs are gone for good!

  2. Sugar industry, incredibly, insists that once you look at the research, no expert says that sugar leads to any disease, even obesity.

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