Can Sugar Feed Cancer

Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?


There are many people who believe that cancer thrives on sugar and recommend that people with cancer eliminate sugar in their diet.

Is that true?

The studies have not confirmed that sugar intake has increased cancer risk directly nor increases cancer growth.

Physicians and other medical professionals knew about a link between diabetes and obesity for quite some time now. They have also proved that diabetes and obesity increases risk of all types of cancers, especially breast, colon, pancreas, esophageal, and more.

Why is that? Is it the diet? Is it the obesity directly?

People who consume large amounts of sugar tend to also eat large quantities of high fat foods, processed food, and fast food. They typically do not include adequate amount of cancer protective vegetables and fruits in their diet.

These behavioral diet choices (not sugar intake) may account for an increase in cancer risk.

Refined Sugar

In addition, high-refined sugar intake can lead to higher blood insulin levels. Studies have linked high insulin levels and insulin resistance to higher risk of developing some cancers. This suggests that high sugar intake may indirectly influence cancer risk.

It’s known that highly refined sugared foods are low in nutrients, low in fiber, and high in carbohydrates and contribute calories but little else to person’s diet. These foods have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 

Many researchers are being increasingly interested in studies that would determine if refined carbohydrates (sugar) are linked indirectly to increase risk of certain cancers, but this is still unknown.

What about concentrated sources of sugar like sweetened beverages? Do they increase risk of cancer? Only one study has shown increased risk of pancreatic cancer in women who had borderline insulin resistance.  Our recommendation is to limit sugar beverages. 

Your Goal During Cancer Treatment

During treatment for cancer, your goal is to maintain your weight, take enough calories and keep up your energy. Cancer is a high metabolic state and usually weight loss occurs with cancer alone and its treatment. Many times your health care team will advise your to include high-calorie foods in your diet and this can be done without consuming excessive amount of highly refined sugar foods. We must emphasize here that BALANCED selection of foods is important which include complex carbohydrates, protein and fats.