Sugar and Cancer

Sugar and Cancer

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Over the last weekend in June, the Naturopathic Doctors at Vive Integrative Health Group attended the biennial Health Fusion conference – an interesting and informative conference hosted by the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.  This year, the theme was Family Medicine and there was an array of lecture topics including environmental impacts on men’s health to insomnia in women to nutritional interventions during perinatal and childhood years.

This month’s blog postings will feature a topic each our Naturopathic Doctors found interesting and wanted to share with you!

Sugar and Cancer

Unfortunately, cancer is now a familiar subject within the context of family medicine.  In fact, cancer is now the leading cause of death in Canada. As a consequence, there has been expanding interests in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Healthy eating habits can help reduce the risk of developing cancer, but is there evidence that a healthy diet can help in the treatment of cancer?

More and more research is revealing the role sugar plays in cancer development and growth. There are many metabolic changes that occur in cancer cells, but this has previously been viewed as a consequence of cancer growth itself.

It now appears that some of these metabolic changes can actually contribute to cancer development.  In particular, sugar can disrupt several biochemical pathways that are key controllers of cell growth and division.

Furthermore, when deprived of sugar, malignant breast cancer cells have been shown to exhibit “phenotypic reversion”.  Simply put, these breast cancer cells began to behave like normal cells again.  For this reason, avoiding sugar may be a helpful strategy in both preventing and treating cancer.

~ Dr. Tim Warwick



Klement RJ, Kammerer U. Is there a role for carbohydrate restriction in the treatment and prevention of cancer? Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011; 8: 75.

Onodera Y, Nam JM, Bissell MJ. Increased sugar uptake promotes oncogenesis via EPAC/RAP1 and O-GlcNAc pathways. J Clin Invest. 2014 Jan; 124(1):367-84.

Statistics Canada. Leading causes of deaths in Canada, 2011, CANSIM Table 102-0522.

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