Does sugar feed cancer?

Hai! My relative is a cancer patient and she adds more sugar in her diet, will this make the situation even worse?

Hai Harshini!
Cancer cells usually grow quickly, multiplying at a fast rate, which takes a lot of energy. This means they need lots of glucose. Cancer cells also need lots of other nutrients too, such as amino acids and fats; it’s not just sugar they crave.

Here’s where the myth that sugar fuels cancer was born:

If cancer cells need lots of glucose , then cutting sugar out of our diet must help stop cancer growing, and could even stop it developing in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. All our healthy cells need glucose too, and there’s no way of telling our bodies to let healthy cells have the glucose they need, but not give it to cancer cells.

And following severely restricted diets with very low amounts of carbohydrate could damage health in the long term by eliminating foods that are good sources of fiber and vitamins.

This is particularly important for cancer patients, because some treatments can result in weight loss and put the body under a lot of stress. So poor nutrition from restrictive diets could also hamper recovery, or even be life-threatening.

If you feel like cutting out sugar doesn’t help treat cancer, why then do we encourage people to cut down on sugary foods in our diet advice?

That’s because there is an indirect link between cancer risk and sugar. Eating lots of sugar over time can cause you to gain weight, and being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer. In fact, obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, which we’ve written about many times before.

Although banishing sugar won’t stop cancer in its tracks, we can all reduce our risk of getting cancer by making healthy choices, and lowering the amount of added sugar in our diets is a good way to help maintain a healthy body weight.