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Aug 24, 2013 10:29 AM

Sugar consumption linked to cancer growth

"Previous research has shown that a diet high in carbohydrates can lead to metabolic abnormalities
such as high blood sugar, increased blood insulin levels, and insulin resistance. Individuals with
metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity have been shown to have a higher risk of certain
cancers, including breast, liver, colon and pancreatic cancers."

Cagan R, et al. "Transformed Drosophila Cells Evade Diet-Mediated Insulin Resistance Through Wingless Signaling" Cell 2013.

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  1. I went with a friend to her chemo appt and everywhere was free candy bars and sugar snacks for the cancer patients.

    6 Replies
    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

      My friend's cancer center has OJ there and candy for post treatment, too. Just makes me want to cry.

      If you do a PubMed search on "hyperinsulinemia and cancer" so many studies of the link to so many cancers. And it's not just sugar it's blood glucose from other carbs, too, that cause glucotoxicity.

      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

        Doughnuts and cookies when I tagged along. It made me question how knowledgable the "health professionals" really were. It made me sad.

        1. re: maxie

          There have been studies of cancer patients getting more favorable results from ketogenic diets. Don't have any excess glucose floating around that way. :-/

          1. re: mcf

            Yes. Unfortunately it can be difficult to change patterns of someone sure that low fat is the healthy way to go, increasing their carbs while rejecting healthy fats -- especially when the health professionals are offering them sugary snacks.

            1. re: mcf

              Do you mean studies like this?

              Effects of a ketogenic diet on the quality of life in 16 patients with advanced cancer: A pilot trial

              Of the 16, 5 stuck with the diet for 3 mths
              "These five ... report an improved emotional functioning and less insomnia, while several other parameters of quality of life remained stable or worsened, reflecting their very advanced disease. Except for temporary constipation and fatigue, we found no severe adverse side effects, especially no changes in cholesterol or blood lipids."

              Feels like they were trying hard to say something positive about the diet.

              Ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsi has been around for some time. As a cancer treatment it seems to be more in the pilot stage or the Mercola stage.

              1. re: paulj

                Not if you collect the reduced tumor metabolism data in, unfortunately, very late stage cancer patients, and then the prevention possibly by reviewing the hyperinsulinemia/cancer connection referenced in the quote I posted.

                Or read Taubes on the subject if not motivated by due diligence.

        2. So the article is about inducing diabetes (or something equivalent) in fruit flies, and along with it tumors. They think these tumors are cells that thrive in the glucose rich environment while surrounding cells stagnate due to insulin resistance. They countered this tumor growth by a change in diet (high protein, low carb) and a combination of 3 drugs.

          " Cagan et al. believe that in order to treat this diet related tumor growth, a drug intervention affecting the pathways associated with Ras/Src tissues and the insulin gene receptor should be considered. "

          1. Your source material misquoted the article from the journal "Cell" to make it appear a condemnation of sugar -- as in cane sugar or beet sugar.

            In fact, your source material altered the text of the Cell journal article to change the meaning.

            The actual article in "Cell" is not on sugar, or on reducing sugar or carbohydrate consumption to stave tumor growth.

            The article instead is on the special way tumors access blood glucose before other cells.

            Cancer cells use blood glucose differently from other cells to fuel tumor growth. They use "accelerators" to get their blood glucose.

            Altering one's diet or reducing blood glucose had no effect on reducing tumor growth because tumors use these accelerators to get their glucose first. It's like the tumors jump to the front of the lunch line.

            The New York Times published a story on the special way tumors access blood glucose, called "Fuel Lines of Tumors Are New Target," and pointed out that reducing blood glucose (either by changing one's diet or other means) would have no effect on reducing tumor growth:

            "Even if blood sugar levels fuel tumor growth, however, experts say that trying to lower the body’s overall level of blood sugar — like by starving oneself — would probably not be effective.

            That's because "tumors are adept at extracting glucose from the blood. So even if glucose is scarce," Dr. Pollack said, “the last surviving cell in the body would be the tumor cell.”

            "So efforts are focusing not on reducing the body’s overall glucose level but on interfering specifically with how tumors use glucose."

            That means focusing on the accelerators, and by deactivating them, one might be able to cut off the special fuel supply to tumors.

            There are quite a few studies on this -- the Cell magazine article is merely one more. Unfortunately, it's on fruitflies, and not on humans.

            Additionally, since tumors are not insulin-resistant even when other cells are, research is
            looking at the possibility that insulin, and not so much blood glucose, accelerates tumor growth. That's what the New York Times article said as well.

            2 Replies
            1. re: maria lorraine

              The article also references a significant body of resarch implicating hyperinsulinemia (a consequence of diet derived glucose requiring extra high insulin levels to cope with it) and damage by excess glycation of body cells.

              This isn't the one and only piece of evidence on the topic.

              Reduce carbs and sugar, reduce hyperinsulinemia, reduce cancer: Taubes, Volek and Feinman present here.

              1. re: mcf

                Familiar with the topic, and there is quite a bit written on it, but it's best to quote the original source material.