Should Cancer Patients Avoid All Sugar?

In the realm of studies that I haven’t quite got my mind around, Colleen Huber’s study on cancer and sugar is right up there.

Here’s the situation. Dr. Huber works with cancer patients. They do conventional and alternative therapies. She recommends that they don’t eat too much sugar, or really any sugared foods at all. Some of the patients follow her recommendations, and some don’t. She doesn’t force the issue, but she was curious whether that particular restriction made any difference.

When she looked at the literature, no one has done this sort of study. In all the vast research on cancer, the idea that cancer might be affected by what you eat while trying to treat cancer is missing.

So Dr. Huber followed up on whether eating sweets made any difference in cancer remission for 317 patients. 48% of those avoiding sugar had remissions, compared to 31% in those who ate sugar. It’s a significant difference, enough to make a billion dollars for a cancer drug. But it’s maybe not enough to convince a chocoholic that they should abstain from sugar.

Patients who leave a practice may not be following a range of other recommendations besides avoiding sweets. So Dr. Huber looked at the patients who stayed with her right through to the end of their treatment or death, whichever came first. For those patients who stayed with her and did everything else she recommended, but still ate sugar, the remission rate was 36%. But in the group that did everything she asked, including stopping sweets, the remission rate rose to 83%.  Only 17% of those who stopped eating sugar died while under Dr. Huber’s care, while 64% of those patients who were doing everything for their health, except stopping sugar, died.

That’s what I can’t get my head around. If this is the largest study of its kind, then we are literally ignoring the biggest cause, not of cancer, but of the progression of cancer.

Cancer cells are rapidly dividing cells, they require an enormous amount of energy. They need so much energy that one of the hallmarks of cancer is sudden unexplained weight loss as the cancer consumes body tissues to fuel its own growth. Add into that mix either no rapid calories or thousands of calories of readily absorbed sugar over a given month, and it seems obvious that sugar might play a role in the growth of cancer. But if Dr. Huber’s study is correct, sugar intake is a primary factor, if not the greatest factor, in cancer progression.

As I said, I’m having trouble coming to terms with the idea. I’d love to see a large scale trial, perhaps an experimental trial from within the cancer groups that don’t have ready treatments. Because if this is right, then we’re missing the boat on the best treatment for cancer.

Here’s the original study.




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