• Does Cancer Feed On Sugar?

    Asked by Jeana1975 on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Does Cancer Feed On Sugar?

    My best friend yelled at me today, and then immediately started crying after I mentioned that I had a bowl of my favorite Orange Cream ice cream. Since learning of my diagnosis, my Dad told me 'No more sugar, young lady! We don't want to give that cancer any reason to stick around!' Since he thinks cancer also feeds on sugar, and he's a cancer survivor. I know she's concerned, but a little bowl of ice cream now and then won't make my cancer (which isn't at all aggressive) go nuts, will it?

    I read an article published by The Cancer Dietitian website regarding sugar. She stated that our cells need sugar as it gives the cells energy. If we completely cut out sugar from our diets, our bodies will get sugars from fat cells and proteins. Does anyone agree or disagree with this?

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Cells require sugar to grow. This is equally true for healthy cells and cancerous cells. Without sugar we would die. Even if you eat no sugar, your body will produce sugar from whatever you do eat. This is not a matter of opinion but a matter of measured scientific fact.

      Eating too much refined sugar does create health problems, but cancer is not one of them. Eating your favorite ice cream once in a while is not going to have any effect on your cancer and it is unlikely to have any other adverse health effects unless you are diabetic or have really bad teeth and it is a huge bowl.

      over 8 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      Hello. Good news. Eat your ice cream once in a while and enjoy it. Everyone has their own soul food.

      Not the best thing for you overall, but as far as sugar in your blood, if there was no sugar in your blood, you wouldn't be able to read this. If you have diabetes, or something going on with your parcreas, it's a different story.

      Cancer cells do use sugar for energy. So does your brain, and the healthy cells of your body. Not all sugar is the same in your diet, and over the course of many years, it probably does make a difference what carbohydrates you're eating with regard to cancer and diabetes and heart disease. But I do not think with regard to feeding a cancer, you have to worry about it. Your body regulates the amount of sugar circulating in your blood by producing insulin. And as the dietitian said, even if you do not eat carbohydrates, your body produces sugars with your other food.

      From what I understand, in the long run, it's probably not a good idea to eat the refined sugars all the time-- white sugar, flour, processed foods-- for different reasons. Everything in moderation. Eat your vegetables to make them happy. A healthy overall diet can help to balance out those other reasons.

      Here's something to read from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-causes/CA00085/NSECTIONGROUP=2

      over 8 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar


      over 8 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Hello, I am an oncology/end of life nurse that specializes in gyne cancers and yes cancer does eat sugar, but mainly the sugars that are long lasting in your system, like sugars that derive from carbohydrates. Ice cream every now and then is okay. If you have ever been to any of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, you will notice that you can't take 5 steps without encountering a huge basket of Jolly Ranchers on every floor. Sugar is even given to you during a PET scan. Enjoy your dessert!! Carm.

      over 8 years ago
    • nobrand's Avatar
      nobrand (Best Answer!)

      You enjoy that ice cream! Sure cancer cells live on sugar, but so does your brain! I have had everyone tell me to stop eating sugar.. so much that I even asked my doctor about it. His opinion was "everything in moderation."

      My dad has been the biggest sugar naysayer in my life.. but he doesn't know that I also enjoyed ice cream last night :) If anything, cancer has taught me that life is short.. so I'm not going to avoid my favorite foods for twigs and tree bark cancer fighting concoctions.... after all-- isn't that what the chemo is for?

      (also... orange ice cream.... YUM!)

      over 8 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear Jeana 1975:
      Here's what I learned about the "cancer feeds on sugar" myth in the nutrition class taught by a dietary specialist for cancer survivors: All cells feed on sugar. That's it. All food is digested into usable nutrients, and glucose is what gives our cells - and thus our bodies - energy. What we (and everyone else, frankly) should avoid is calorie dense foods - that is, foods with lots of calories and little nutrition. Like that candy bar, or that bowl of ice cream, or that plate of fried onion rings. That doesn't mean all the time - eat the foods you like in moderation. And when you eat foods that are high in natural or other sugars, eat it with foods that are high in fiber. The fiber keeps your body from experiencing spikes in your blood sugar levels, which increase insulin levels. As the dietician explained, you can drink a glass of orange juice, which most people consider "healthy" and experience the same spike in sugar and insulin as eating a candy bar. But you can eat an orange (also healthy) and because of of the fiber in the orange, your body will not have the same spike in blood sugar and insulin. The fiber helps the body draw out the sugar over a longer period of time. That's why eating an orange makes you feel fuller than drinking a glass of juice and why that glass of juice is little better for you than a glass of Kool-Aid. So add a few almonds to your ice cream, or sprinkle on ground flax seed. What you really want to avoid is the sharp spikes in blood sugar which leads to rapid insulin production. A constant cycle of these spikes can create an internal microrenvironment that cancer cells like. At least, that's what I learned.
      Fight On,

      over 8 years ago
    • Jeana1975's Avatar

      Thank you everyone, I'm so happy you all helped me feel less guilty about my little ice cream splurge. I don't have diabetes, and consistently have very low blood pressure (never gets over 104/67 and has been as low as 99/60. I get that from my Dad's side of the family, as Dad has low blood pressure to. My normal temperature settles around 97.6 on a regular basis lol Other than the cancer and a little scoliosis in my upper back, I'm healthy as a clam :) In fact, through all of this I've dropped 5 dress sizes, and even got to unpack all my skinny clothes yesterday. YAY ME! I love to eat fruit, cottage cheese with applesauce or any kind of fruit is a real treat for me. Sweets aren't something I indulge in regularly, because I don't like how that kind of sugar makes me feel. My Mom's side of the family has a mad sweet tooth, and I did inherit that sweet tooth from Mom, but I've learned over time to reign it in. Like anyone else, I do like to have a treat now and again :) Thanks again, to each and every one of you, for taking the time to answer my question and put my mind at ease. I promise I will enjoy my treats in moderation, and reserve them for special occasions and reasons only :D

      over 8 years ago

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