Will Eating Sugar Make My Cancer Worse?

The Short Answer from advanced practice nurses

Q: Will eating sugar make my cancer worse?

A: You may have read or heard something about “sugar feeding cancer,” leading you to wonder if you should stop eating sugar for fear of feeding cancer growth.

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Research supports the notion that cancer cells consume more sugar than normal cells, but there is no conclusive evidence proving that eating sugar will make cancer grow or spread more quickly or that cutting out sugar will slow down its growth.

All cells in our bodies, including cancer cells, need sugar (glucose) for energy. Our bodies have several back-up strategies to keep blood sugar levels normal. Even without eating carbohydrates, your body will make sugar from other sources, including protein and fat.

During cancer treatment and recovery, our bodies need energy. If you are restricting your diet under the assumption that you are helping, you may, in fact, be depriving yourself of sources of energy that you need to fight cancer.

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Now comes the but — namely, that this doesn’t mean that a high-sugar diet is healthy. Eating too many calories from sugar has been linked to weight gain, obesity and diabetes, which are all risk factors for the development of cancer.

— From the book The Complete Cancer Organizer by Jamie L. Schwachter, BSN, MSN, CNP and Josette M.Snyder, BSN, MSN, AOCN

Reference: Oncology Nutrition.org

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Cancer Answer Nurses

Jamie Schwachter, BSN, MSN, NP-C and Josette Snyder, RN, MSN, AOCN are Advanced Practice Nurses for Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute’s Cancer Answer Line.
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