“Sugar and Cancer”
Originally printed by The Alternative
It puzzles me why the simple concept
"sugar feeds cancer" can be so dramatically overlooked as
part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan.
Of the 4 million cancer patients being
treated in America today, hardly any are offered any scientifically
guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to "just eat good foods."
Most patients I work with arrive with a complete lack of nutritional
I believe many cancer patients would
have a major improvement in their outcome if they controlled the supply
of cancer's preferred fuel, glucose.
By slowing the cancer's growth, patients
allow their immune systems and medical debulking therapies -- chemotherapy,
radiation and surgery to reduce the bulk of the tumor mass -- to catch
up to the disease.
Controlling one's blood-glucose levels
through diet, supplements, exercise, meditation and prescription drugs
when necessary can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer
recovery program. The sound bite -- sugar feeds cancer -- is simple.
The explanation is a little more complex.
The 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine,
German Otto Warburg, Ph.D., first discovered that cancer cells have
a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells.
The crux of his Nobel thesis was that
malignant tumors frequently exhibit an increase in anaerobic glycolysis
-- a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer cells with
lactic acid as an anaerobic byproduct -- compared to normal tissues.
The large amount of lactic acid produced
by this fermentation of glucose from cancer cells is then transported
to the liver. This conversion of glucose to lactate generates a lower,
more acidic pH in cancerous tissues as well as overall physical fatigue
from lactic acid buildup. Thus, larger tumors tend to exhibit a more
This inefficient pathway for energy metabolism
yields only 2 moles of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy per mole
of glucose, compared to 38 moles of ATP in the complete aerobic oxidation
By extracting only about 5 percent (2
vs. 38 moles of ATP) of the available energy in the food supply and
the body's calorie stores, the cancer is "wasting" energy,
and the patient becomes tired and undernourished. This vicious cycle
increases body wasting.
It is one reason why 40 percent of cancer
patients die from malnutrition, or cachexia. Hence, cancer therapies
should encompass regulating blood-glucose levels via diet, supplements,
non-oral solutions for cachectic patients who lose their appetite, medication,
exercise, gradual weight loss and stress reduction. Professional guidance
and patient self-discipline are crucial at this point in the cancer
process. The quest is not to eliminate sugars or carbohydrates from
the diet but rather to control blood glucose within a narrow range to
help starve the cancer and bolster immune function.
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
Sugar in the Body and Diet
Sugar is a generic term used to identify
simple carbohydrates, which includes monosaccharides such as fructose,
glucose and galactose; and disaccharides such as maltose and sucrose
(white table sugar). Think of these sugars as different-shaped bricks
in a wall.
When fructose is the primary monosaccharide
brick in the wall, the glycemic index registers as healthier, since
this simple sugar is slowly absorbed in the gut, then converted to glucose
in the liver. This makes for "time-release foods," which offer
a more gradual rise and fall in blood-glucose levels.
If glucose is the primary monosaccharide
brick in the wall, the glycemic index will be higher and less healthy
for the individual. As the brick wall is torn apart in digestion, the
glucose is pumped across the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream,
rapidly raising blood-glucose levels.
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.
The 1997 American Diabetes Association
blood-glucose standards consider 126 mg 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 Paleolithic 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.
Obviously, today's high-sugar diets are
having unhealthy effects as far as blood-sugar is concerned. Excess
blood glucose may initiate yeast overgrowth, blood vessel deterioration,
heart disease and other health conditions.
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.
The glycemic index is a useful tool in
guiding the cancer patient toward a healthier diet, but it is not infallible.
By using the glycemic index alone, one could be led to thinking a cup
of white sugar is healthier than a baked potato.
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.
What the Literature Says
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.
Limiting sugar consumption may not be
the only line of defense. In fact, an interesting botanical extract
from the avocado plant (Persea americana) is showing promise as a new
When a purified avocado extract called
mannoheptulose was added to a number of tumor cell lines tested in vitro
by researchers in the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford University
in Britain, they found it inhibited tumor cell glucose uptake by 25
to 75 percent, and it inhibited the enzyme glucokinase responsible for
glycolysis. It also inhibited the growth rate of the cultured tumor
The same researchers gave lab animals
a 1.7 mg/g body weight dose of mannoheptulose for five days; it reduced
tumors by 65 to 79 percent. Based on these studies, there is good reason
to believe that avocado extract could help cancer patients by limiting
glucose to the tumor cells.
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 U.S. Air Force
research physician, surmised that a chemical called hydrazine sulfate,
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 sulfate's
ability to slow and reverse cachexia in advanced cancer patients. A
placebo-controlled trial followed 101 cancer patients taking either
6 mg hydrazine sulfate three times/day or placebo. After one month,
83 percent of hydrazine sulfate patients increased their weight, compared
to 53 percent on placebo.
A similar study by the same principal
researchers, partly funded by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda,
Md., followed 65 patients. Those who took hydrazine sulfate and were
in good physical condition before the study began lived an average of
17 weeks longer.
The medical establishment may be missing
the connection between sugar and its role in tumorigenesis. Consider
the million-dollar positive emission tomography device, or PET scan,
regarded as one of the ultimate cancer-detection tools. PET scans use
radioactively labeled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumor 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 tumors 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.
SCMT was tested on 103 patients with
metastasized cancer or recurrent primary tumors 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 percent, and the complete rate of tumor regression increased
by 30 to 50 percent.
The protocol induces rapid growth of
the cancer, then treats the tumor with toxic therapies for a dramatic
improvement in outcome.
The irrefutable role of glucose in the
growth and metastasis of cancer cells can enhance many therapies. Some
of these include diets designed with the glycemic index in mind to regulate
increases in blood glucose, hence selectively starving the cancer cells;
low-glucose TPN solutions; avocado extract to inhibit glucose uptake
in cancer cells; hydrazine sulfate to inhibit gluconeogenesis in cancer
cells; and SCMT.
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 which included Sam's formula
nine times/day, she beat her terminal lung cancer.
Posted by: Dr. Mercola