Sugar Feeds Cancer

I've previously posted on this, one post you should definitely read. Via a comment on Art's private blog, I see even more evidence that that ingesting sugar (including too much grain and/or fruit / juice) in the presence of cancer kills people a lot faster. Read what Patrick Quillin, PHD, RD, CNS has to say.

A mouse model of human breast cancer demonstrated that tumors 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, 8 of 24 hyperglycemic mice survived compared to 16 of 24 normoglycemic and 19 of 20 hypoglycemic. This suggests that regulating sugar intake is key to slowing breast tumor 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 100 g 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 modern countries that keep 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.

If I had to speculate, it would be that cancer is brought about by unnatural foods in our diets (grains & vegetable oils, primarily) that generate and promote chronic inflammation and this inflammation, in-turn, causes cancer. And, once that job is complete, sugar takes right over to feed that cancer.

Wanna read something really dumb, then, continuing with Quillin?

In 1990, I called the major cancer hospitals in the country looking for some information on the crucial role of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) in cancer patients. Some 40 percent of cancer patients die from cachexia.5 Yet many starving cancer patients are offered either no nutritional support or the standard TPN solution developed for intensive care units. The solution provides 70 percent of the calories going into the bloodstream in the form of glucose. All too often, I believe, these high-glucose solutions for cachectic cancer patients do not help as much as would TPN solutions with lower levels of glucose and higher levels of amino acids and lipids. These solutions would allow the patient to build strength and would not feed the tumor.

Good job, folks. Give them intravenous nutrition, 70% of which is the primary fuel for cancer cells, a medical fact know since 1931 — a discovery by Otto Warburg that earned him a Nobel prize in medicine.

Oh, well, even though high fat-eating gunter-gatherers don't get cancer, we certainly couldn't feed cancer patients high fat.

Finally, if you read that previous post of mine that I highlighted at the beginning of this post, then you are aware of the anecdote of a man putting his metasticized lung cancer into remission via a high-fat diet a-la Jan Kwasniewski (see here, too). Well, Dr. Quillan has another similar one.

A female patient in her 50s, with lung cancer, came to our clinic, having been given a death sentence by her Florida oncologist. She was cooperative and understood the connection between nutrition and cancer. She changed her diet considerably, leaving out 90 percent of the sugar she used to eat. She found that wheat bread and oat cereal now had their own wild sweetness, even without added sugar. With appropriately restrained medical therapy — including high-dose radiation targeted to tumor sites and fractionated chemotherapy, a technique that distributes the normal one large weekly chemo dose into a 60-hour infusion lasting days — a good attitude and an optimal nutrition program, she beat her terminal lung cancer. I saw her the other day, five years later and still disease-free, probably looking better than the doctor who told her there was no hope.

Now, if all this is true, and we know what other bad things sugar does — like making you fat & diabetic — then why in the world would you want to touch it in any significant way?

Oh, and by the way, can you guess the other thing we talk about here a lot that actually protects you should you get cancer and require chemotherepy? (hint: it starts with an 'f')

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. John Campbell on February 24, 2009 at 16:03


    Good post – if eating and living the way you and others advocate were a pill, it would make billions and lead to a Nobel prize or two. It is unbelievable how resistant people are to the message.

    Your post prompted the recall of a related post in Protein Power

    A study in Germany looked at ketogenic diets to treat cancer patients.

    "A group in Germany is looking at such diets in a small pilot study. Patients are only admitted to the study when all standard therapies – chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc. – have failed and they have basically been sent home to die. In fact, a few were so far gone that they died within the first week of starting the study. You couldn’t ask for a study group more destined for failure, but, according to the Times article:

    The good news is that for five patients who were able to endure three months of carb-free eating, the results were positive: the patients stayed alive, their physical condition stabilized or improved and their tumors slowed or stopped growing, or shrunk."

    But get this:

    "[Some] dropped out because they found it hard to stick to the no-sweets diet: “We didn’t expect this to be such a big problem, but a considerable number of patients left the study because they were unable or unwilling to renounce soft drinks, chocolate and so on.”

    When will the madness cease? Keep up the good work. We have a lot of work to do. The truth will win, but the game has just begun.

  2. Patrik on February 24, 2009 at 22:30

    Hi Guys,

    Off-topic as usual — but another great post by Peter at Hyperlipid:

    Check it out.

  3. Ryon Day on February 24, 2009 at 14:40


    The sight that ignited in me the passion for health, wellness, and fitness in my own life, and the desire to help others whenever possible, was see my grandfather in the paliative care unit of the UAB oncology center during the last days of his battle with stomach cancer (a story I'll recount on my own blog soon).

    I couldn't help bout notice the bag of food they were dripping into his stomach, and theorized to myself that it was probably a lot of carbohydrate. That was the beginning of my personal quest, on which you and Keith Norris have been two lighthouses.

    Thanks for all your help and research. Like I said, you and Keith are my blogging role models.

  4. Richard Nikoley on February 24, 2009 at 15:00

    Hey, thanks Ryon.

  5. Paleo Newbie on February 24, 2009 at 19:56

    Good post. A few studies were released on ICU patients on aggressive blood sugar control and found that with tight control, ICU stays were shorter. However, the debate is how "tight". By the way, TPN has changed dramatically. Each bag is unique, designed on the patients lab work from that day.

    Total parenteral nutrition–associated hyperglycemia correlates with prolonged mechanical ventilation and hospital stay in septic infants
    Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Volume 41, Issue 1, Pages 239-244
    D. Alaedeen, M. Walsh, W. Chwals

  6. Marc Feel Good Eating on February 25, 2009 at 04:40

    Hi Richard,
    Have you ever heard the story about Owsley Stanley???
    He was the San Fran LSD king in the sixties.

    Against all medical advice he kept an aggresive brain tumor at bay, by not consuming any sugar and making himself chicken/marrow broth. Over the course of 4 years, he was able to shrink the tumor, and finally schedule a surgery to remove the now "non active tumor"
    I read about it a while ago, but it spurred my interest to read more about sugar and cancer. The common sense of it all is strikingly obvious.

    Have a great day!

  7. Joe Matasic on February 25, 2009 at 05:47

    Great article. I'll have to save this one also.

    My theory on how cancer forms was not necessarily that it was caused by grains and PUFAs, but by accelerated cell division. Though environmental factors and the lowered immune system from grains and PUFAs. I've read the a cell has to go through 5 or 6 specific mutations in order to become cancer, on of which has to disable apoptosis thereby enabling the cell to not commit suicide. Basically unlucky. Though a high sugar diet would speed this, making the chance more likely (I could be off on this part). Once formed the cancer now has the ability to grow rapidly due to today's diet and kill.

    I don't think its impossible that our ancestors, especially the long lived ones, did develop cancer but that with there diets it never became an issue.

    What do you think? Am I on crack and way off base? I think I came up with this after reading GCBC and some of Dr. Eades stuff.

    I used to have a fatty tumor on my back the size of a hockey puck when I was way overweight in my early to mid twenties. My doctor said if he removed it it would just grow back. Of course he assumed it was benign, he never tested it. Though then I trusted my doctors. After switching to low carb in my 30s, I don't think its there at all anymore. I certainly can't feel it. Whether it worked the same as cancer or was actually cancer I'll never know.


  8. Paleo Newbie on February 25, 2009 at 08:50

    Joe- You most likely had a lipoma a benign fatty tumor, which go and come as they please, and can come back.(tumor does not have to mean cancer)

    You are correct that cancer takes multiple mutations to grow out of control. There are two classes genes in which if mutations were to occur, it can lead to cancer. 1. Tumor supressor genes-in which mutations turn off their function 2.Pro-oncogenes-in which mutations turn on their fuction or increase it. Remember, these were normal genes that had normal jobs until the mutation occured and then are named "cancer genes in lay terms".

  9. Paleo Newbie on February 25, 2009 at 13:37

    and as Richard just stated above, chronic inflammation can lead to cancer also. Like esophageal cancer from chronic reflux.

  10. Richard Nikoley on February 25, 2009 at 10:17

    I was probably sloppy in how I phrased that. I think cancer is likely the product of chronic inflammation over a long period of time (except in cases where it's perhaps a gene gone awry or inherited). So, the inflammation would be the root cause. Then, among other things that might promote chronic inflammation, I think grains and frankenoils are chief promoters of widespread chronic inflammation in many, many people (but perhaps not all, or at least not to the same extent).

    Does that sound more sound?

  11. Richard Nikoley on February 26, 2009 at 13:56


    Oh, yea. The Bear. I've read most of that archive of his, and even made one of his recipes, which I dubbed "LSD Chicken."

    As to the cancer, I believe it was throat cancer, and what I read (somewhere, can't recall) is that when it was discovered, it was still small, yet they could tell it was several years old, i.e., it grew very slowly until large enough to detect.

    Here's a bit:

  12. Cynthia on February 27, 2009 at 00:53

    thought you might be interested in this paper that appeared in Nature last year. Nature 452, pg 230 (2008) Here is the abstract:

    "Many tumour cells have elevated rates of glucose uptake but reduced rates of oxidative phosphorylation. This persistence of high lactate production by tumours in the presence of oxygen, known as aerobic glycolysis, was first noted by Otto Warburg more than 75 yr ago1. How tumour cells establish this altered
    metabolic phenotype and whether it is essential for tumorigenesis is as yet unknown. Here we show that a single switch in a splice isoform of the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase is necessary for the shift in cellular metabolism to aerobic glycolysis and that this
    promotes tumorigenesis. Tumour cells have been shown to
    express exclusively the embryonic M2 isoform of pyruvate kinase. Here we use short hairpin RNA to knockdown pyruvate kinase M2 expression in human cancer cell lines and replace it with pyruvate
    kinase M1. Switching pyruvate kinase expression to the M1 (adult) isoform leads to reversal of the Warburg effect, as judged by reduced lactate production and increased oxygen consumption, and this correlates with a reduced ability to form tumours in nude mouse xenografts. These results demonstrate that M2 expression is necessary for aerobic glycolysis and that this metabolic phenotype provides a selective growth advantage for tumour cells in vivo."

    Basically, tumors prefer to burn glucose anaerobically and can therefore withstand deficient O2 levels better than healthy tissues. It seems to me that lowering your glucose levels is a pretty good way to protect yourself from cancer.

  13. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 09:30


    Yep, I hit on that one back here:

  14. Holly, RD- Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition on March 31, 2009 at 08:28

    I think we also need to strongly consider the role of insulin as the key to all of this. Check out this well researched article. Sugar cannot feed cancer without insulin.

  15. dermatology rancho cucamonga on April 27, 2009 at 20:16

    Thank you for bringing up this very important matter its good that we have a researcher regarding this. Keep[ up the good work.

    by: sphin

  16. hampers on June 29, 2009 at 23:40

    This is a great find as I am into this organic, toxic-free, preservative-free types of food. Anything that are not natural, already processed and toxic add-ons in food are a No No to me and I know for sure these were the culprits why more people are suffering from cancer and other sickness that somehow lead to early death. But who did this thing? It's us, humans too. You're right in telling your followers about the importance of limiting or probably shunning sugar from any diet. I'm really glad as this is another big knowledge worthy to be spread.

  17. Oerloper on August 20, 2009 at 20:58

    This lecture on the subject of sugar especially fructose might interest you also:
    Sugar: The Bitter Truth on

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