The Basics of What Cancer Eats

Anaerobic (without oxygen) metabolism primarily consumes glucose as a fuel source. More specifically, it consumes the end-point of glucose (glycolytic) metabolism – lactic acid. Cancer cells respire anaerobically, consuming 7-8 times more glucose than normal cells. Since it is so inefficient compared to aerobic metabolism, cancers have a voracious appetite for glucose to sustain them. This is why excess consumption of sugars tends to promote cancer growth.

Understand, all cells use glucose for metabolic processes. Glucose follows a pathway called glycolysis where it creates a small amount of energy (ATP), and finally exits as two pyruvate molecules. In healthy cells, pyruvate breaks down to acetyl co-A and enters the mitochondria into the Krebs cycle where it efficiently produces most of our energy needs.

Cancer cells tend to shunt much of the pyruvate down a different, less efficient path converting it to lactic acid. This is the anaerobic pathway. The HIF-1a gene is also partially responsible for this lactate shunt (see my book Cancer Genes on our website as a free download).

So, generally, all cancer patients should limit carbohydrates. People whose cancers are primarily fed through the above glycolytic fuel should consider an even more restrictive, ketogenic-like diet.

This is also why cancer patients may want to limit their type of exercise to more gentle, non-aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercises tend to deplete oxygen (cancers love depleted oxygenation) and produce more lactic acid in the tissue (a major fuel source for many cancers).

However, as stated, a ketogenic-like is NOT best for everyone. Some cancers feed mainly on amino acids.

It is less well known that some cancers have an equally voracious appetite for methionine and glutamine, which are amino acids from proteins. Briefly, glutamine is the most important “nitrogen shuttle” in the blood. It brings the organic nitrogen to the cancer cells so they can use it to make the essential amino acids and thus proteins required to make more cancer cells. As the glutamine supply goes to zero, tumor growth can slow as well.

Patients whose cancers are more amino acid driven do best on vegetarian-type diets. We have found that it is the animal meats (pork, beef, venison, poultry, lamb, etc.) that are primarily responsible for feeding amino acid driven cancers. Often eggs and fish are fine within reason. We strongly recommend limiting simple carbohydrates with these people as well.

In order for cancer cells to survive they basically require three conditions:

  • Availability of glucose
  • Anaerobic surroundings – less oxygen
  • Availability of glutamine, methionine and other amino acids

One avenue to reduce the growth of cancer cells is simply to starve their food sources such as described above, and then increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, which cancers hate.

More on Sugar and Glutamine

I’ve stated above that the Cancer Diet should decrease sugar and glutamine consumption in general even in a balanced approach. Again, if you aren’t sure if your cancer is fueling one way or another, reduce both. Below research gives us more substantiation.

Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have uncovered new information on the notion that sugar “feeds” tumors. The findings may also have implications for other diseases such as diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“It’s been known since 1923 that tumor cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells. Our research helps show how this process takes place, and how it might be stopped to control tumor growth,” says Don Ayer, Ph.D., a Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator and professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah.

Glucose and glutamine are both essential for cell growth, and it was long assumed they operated independently, but Ayer’s research shows they are inter-dependent.  During both normal and cancerous cell growth, a cellular process takes place that involves both glucose (sugar) and glutamine (an amino acid). Ayer discovered that by restricting glutamine availability, glucose cannot be well utilized by cancer cells. “Essentially, if you don’t have glutamine, the cell is short circuited due to a lack of glucose, which halts the growth of the tumor cell,” Ayer says.

The research, spearheaded by Mohan Kaadige, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow in Ayer’s lab, focused on MondoA, a protein that is responsible for turning genes on and off. In the presence of glutamine, MondoA blocks the expression of a gene called TXNIP. TXNIP is thought to be a tumor suppressor, but when it’s blocked by MondoA, it allows cancer cells to take up and utilize glucose as its primary energy source, which in turn drives tumor growth.

Ayer says the next step in his research is to develop animal models to test his ideas about how MondoA and TXNIP control cell growth. “If we can understand that, we can break the cycle of glucose utilization which could be beneficial in the treatment of cancer,” Ayer says.

So, make sure you are not taking any glutamine in your supplements. Since this is an amino acid, you would most likely find it in a protein powder.  Another common source of glutamine would be in products to heal the gut. Glutamine is a primary player in intestinal healing and though healing intestinal permeability issues (leaky gut syndrome) is important for cancer patients, do NOT use a product with glutamine!

Dairy and rbGH

An epidemic rise in one under-publicized category of cancers should sound an alarm for all Americans. There is a powerful link to the dramatic surge in lymphatic cancer: the 1994 approval of the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH). Before 1995, lymphatic cancers were comparatively rare.  Today, if one adds up the total number of cancer deaths from breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic, and genital cancers, they do not cumulatively equal the number of deaths from lymphatic cancers.

Americans annually consume nearly 180 billion pounds of dairy products that will average out to over 650 pounds per American.  Cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and milk will be ingested from hormonally-treated cows – cows treated with rbGH.  Most people are unaware that laboratory animals treated with rbGH experienced enormous changes in their lymphatic systems.

The controversial genetically modified cow hormone was approved for human consumption in February of 1994. Cancer statistics have recently been published by the U.S. Census Bureau comparing death rates from cancer by sex and age groups in 1980, 1990, and 1995. These data support evidence of a runaway plague. All of America became a laboratory study for rbGH, which is now in America’s ice cream, cheese, and pizza.

There are small increases and decreases in lymphatic cancer rates from 1980 to 1990 depending upon sex and age group. What happened in 1995 represents the most dramatic short-term increase of any single cancer in the history of epidemiological discovery and analyses.


BY SEX AND AGE (1980 – 1995)
(Deaths per 100,000 population in specified age group)
1980 1990 1995 increase 1980 1990 1995 increase
35-44 4.3 4.5 36.5 811% 2.4 2.1 44.0 2095%
45-54 10.2 10.9 143.7 1318% 6.6 6.0 140.7 2345%
55-64 24.4 27.2 480.5 1767% 16.8 16.7 357.5 2141%
65-74 48.1 56.8 1089.9 1919% 34.4 39.5 690.7 1749%
75-84 80.0 104.5 1842.3 1763% 57.6 71.2 1061.5 1495%
85+ 93.2 140.5 2837.3 2019% 63.0 90.0 1249.1 1588%

The approval process for rbGH was the most controversial drug application in the history of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In order to address that controversy, the FDA published an article in the journal SCIENCE (August 24, 1990).

Data in that paper reveal that the average male rat receiving rbGH developed a spleen 39.6 percent larger than the spleen of the control animals after just 90 days of treatment. The spleens from rbGH-treated females increased in size by a factor of 46 percent. These are not normal reactions and portray animals in distress. These animals were “under attack” by the genetically engineered hormone. The spleen is the first line of defense in a mammal’s lymphatic system.

Lab animals treated with rbGH developed lymphatic abnormalities.  This same hormone causing changes in lab animals was introduced into America’s food supply in 1994. As Americans continue to ingest genetically engineered milk and dairy products, lymphatic cancer rates soar. Americans have become laboratory subjects in genetic engineering’s experiment, and the resulting data indicates extreme cause for concern.

Lesson: If you stay on the Cancer Diet, you won’t have to worry about genetic modification of dairy because you won’t be eating dairy.  Any dairy consumed, like yogurt, must be rbGH-free!

Get your hard-copy of Stop Fighting Cancer & Start Treating the Cause to learn more about how to treat cancer with alternative medicine, and for even more in-depth education and help, check out Dr. Conners’ Stop Fighting Cancer COURSE