The Sugar and Cancer Connection


When my Dad was in the hospital battling stage 4 lung and colon cancer in the Spring of 2012, his caring and well-intentioned doctors and nurses were pumping him full of Ensure. The first ingredient, in case you don't know, is corn maltodextrin (sugar). He was weak and close to death. It was ALL they were feeding him. I watched in horror as he sipped it through a straw.

"Please Dad," I begged, "don't drink that stuff." 

I lost that battle. And he lost his.

In this blog, I will share research that makes a clear connection between sugar and cancer. Knowing the 'facts' just might save your life or someone you love.


Every cell in your body uses blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But cancer cells use about 200 times more than normal cells. They need huge amounts of sugar to fuel their growth. That’s why physicians can find cancers by monitoring where radioactive glucose accumulates in our bodies, with FDG-PET scans.

What makes these cancers take up glucose and use it to grow are mutations in genes like PIK3CA, and in many cases, these mutations allow insulin to drive tumor growth. So eating sugar is a double danger in regard to cancer. It increases the amount of glucose available to the tumor, but it also increases the level of insulin in the bloodstream.

Cancer researcher, Dr. Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, and former Speaker on our Kick Sugar Summit 2019, has scientifically proven the link between sugar and cancer. His research shows how cancer starts in the presence of high levels of insulin, the hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your blood. And in Dr. Cantley's words "what drives insulin levels is sugar.” 

Over the years, his laboratory has studied many types of cancers, including breast, endometrial, ovarian, brain, lung, pancreatic, prostate, colorectal, and blood cancers. These cancers utilize insulin to drive glucose-dependent tumor growth. However, colorectal cancer is unique in how it responds to sugars. Since these cancers grow in the colon, they eat the sugar fructose before it gets into the bloodstream. 

It is tricky to track down all the sugar you eat. It’s hidden in things you’d never expect, like soups, salad dressings, peanut butter, yogurt, ketchup, instant oatmeal, nut milk, and deli meat. And often, it’s not even called sugar (sucrose) on the label. There are 60+ names for added sugar including maltose, dextrose, the maltodextrin we mentioned earlier. They may sound healthier but they are not. To cancer cells, they’re all just sugar.

If you are looking to avoid cancer or heal from cancer, do a sweeping analysis of all possible forms of sugar in your diet. And get them out. 



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