Cancer & Sugar: Does changing your diet starve cancerous cells?
Recently, there have been many people talking about how ‘sugar feeds cancer cells’. And while technically this is true, the reality is that alongside cancer cells, sugar feeds most cells in the human body and is vital to our everyday function.
Carbohydrates like pasta eventually break down into sugars in the body, which are critical for cell function. We need sugar to survive. It is an essential source of energy, and our body has no control over where it goes.
What happens if we eliminate sugar?
“Stopping sugar getting to cancer cells would also mean that your body’s healthy cells get starved of necessary sugars,” says the CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Sanchia Aranda.
“I think that would make you lose weight, [and] would make your immune system less efficient and more likely that a cancer would progress.”
What’s more, our bodies are clever — they have other ways of getting glucose.
Even if you do try and cut it out, the body will just convert fat and protein stores into glucose where necessary.
Does sugar cause cancer?
The simple answer is no, it doesn’t but cancer cells need sugar to grow, as do all of the other cells in your body.
While sugar does feed cancer, the true picture of how cancer cells grow is a “lot more complicated than that,” says University of New South Wales cancer biologist Dr Darren Saunders.
He says there’s strong evidence some cancer cells also feed on amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) or lipids (substances including fats and oils).