Monday, December 18, 2006

Does Cancer Feed Off Sugar?

A few weeks ago I started doing research to determine if nutrition was important in the cancer treatment process. Of the three oncologist's we've met, the first one said that it didn't matter what you ate, the second one said that he wasn't trained in nutrition (honest answer) but that it couldn't hurt, and the final one said that no particular diet was "clinically proven" to help. In relation to nutrition "clinically proven" doesn't mean a whole lot because clinical studies are very expensive to administer and are almost always funded by pharmaceutical companies.

While reviewing several cancer-related nutritional sites on the Internet I continued to read that cancer patients should not have sugar because cancer feeds off of sugar. There was no rationale given so I was very curious to know why this was (if it was indeed true). This led to me to conduct more research.

What I found was that back in the 1930's a German biochemist by the name of Dr. Otto Warburg, a cancer researcher, made a couple of discoveries that won him two Nobel Prizes. First, he discovered that the primary cause of cancer was inadequate cell respiration (not enough oxygen in the cells). Through experimentation he determined that cancer can't survive in oxygen-rich cells, it prefers a low oxygen environment. Second, he discovered that cancer thrives on glucose (sugar) fermentation in the body. Hence the saying, "cancer thrives on sugar".

[There are different types of sugar; glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc. Not all sugar is bad for cancer patients, natural sugars found in fruit (fructose) are good for you. Ordinary table sugar (sucrose), comprised of both glucose and fructose, should be avoided.]

After this discovery, the next big question was, what causes cells to not get enough oxygen? Dr. Warburg believed it had to do with certain fatty acids in the body which affected cell structure. He was not able to crack the code but several years later another German biochemist by the name of Dr. Johanna Budwig; who was also a physicist, pharmacologist, and a medical doctor, also believed that fatty acids were the key to adequate cell respiration. She developed techniques to be able to differentiate the different types of fatty acids. Through her research, she determined that particular fatty acids (Omega-6) in a person's diet, especially those that are commercially processed, over time strip human cells of electrons that are vital to cellular health and respiration. Examples of foods that are high in Omega-6 include corn oil, peanut oil, beef, pork, chicken, dairy, etc.

She determined that another group of fatty acids (Omega-3) were rich in electrons, promoted cell respiration, and were essential to human health. Examples of foods that are high in Omega-3 include flaxseed, flax oil, salmon (wild caught, not farm-raised), tunafish (not canned), mackerel, sardines, walnuts, among others. Dr. Budwig also determined that the average German diet (similar to Americans) was very high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3, mostly due to commercially processed oils and foods.

[As a side note, I've found quoted several times that the average American diet has a dietary intake ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 between 20:1 to 50:1. The ratio should be no higher than 5:1, ideally 1:1. With the low amount of Omega-3 that most Americans consume coupled with high sugar intake, it's no wonder that our cancer rates are so high. Our second oncologist said that 1 out of every 2 American men and 1 out of every 3 American women will get some type of cancer.]

The richest plant-based source of Omega-3 was found in Flaxseed Oil. However, Dr. Budwig determined that in order to make the oil water-soluble in the human body (and easily digestable) that it needed to bind with a sulfurated protein, like cottage cheese or yogurt.

Next, Dr. Budwig began working with terminally ill cancer patients who were told to "go home and die". She reversed their diets to be high in Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 by incorporating the flax oil and cottage cheese mixture among other healthy foods. Within weeks her patients were feeling much better and within months their tumors were shrinking. Eventually, their tumors altogether disappeared.

News spread of her discovery (and success) and many of the terminally ill flocked to her for treatment. At some point an effort was underway to discredit her work and she was the subject of several lawsuits (I believe these were brought by the commercial cooking oil producers and pharmaceutical companies). Ultimately, she won all of the suits that were brought against her because her research was sound and could not be disproved. However, I'm sure it hurt "public image". She was nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize but never won.

More info about Dr. Budwig can be found here:

I was so intrigued by this that I wondered if any recent research had been done on the subject of flaxseed oil and cancer. I went to the National Institutes of Health website ( and did keyword searches through PubMed, which has access to all of the scientific and medical research journals. What I found next was absolutely incredible. Over the past 5+ years, researchers in the United States and Canada have been conducting research on animals, inducing cancer and feeding them various diets. For instance, one study took 30 mice, injected them with breast cancer and allowed the tumors to develop. Then, they took 10 mice and fed them a typical Western diet high in corn oil, another 10 mice were fed a diet high in flaxseed oil, and the other 10 were fed something else (not relevant to my story). After continuing these diets for 60-90 days, the mice were euthanized and dissected to determine what happened to their tumors. In the corn-oil fed mice their tumors stayed about the same or got worse. In the flaxseed-oil fed mice their tumors shrunk 75%. Needless to say, I found this to be most interesting.

There were many other similar studies for various forms of cancer (breast, colon, prostate) as well as studies for arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), arthritis, cholestorol, etc. In all of the studies I read, the animals fed the flaxseed diet always improved significantly or were cured.

After reading all of this, I decided there was an awful lot of evidence pointing to significant health benefits of incorporating more Omega-3 fats into our diets. So, I started Kate (and the family) on a diet that does just that.

From my research, Barleans is the best brand of flaxseed oil (flax oil) and can be purchased at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, local nutrition stores, or online ( It is found in the refrigerated section. I think the website also has a store locator. Flaxseed oil is very sensitive to heat and light so it must be refrigerated.

The correct proportion is 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons of Flax Oil to 1/4 cup of organic low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. These ingredients must be thoroughly mixed in a mixer/blender before anything else is added, you may need to add a little water or milk to help it mix up properly.

There are many things you can do with this initial mixture. For instance, if you like smoothies, you can add berries, juice (100% pure, not from concentrate), honey, etc and mix it up. You should also add ground flaxseed which is recommended due to its high lignan content (not found in the filtered oil) which has anti-cancer properties. Flaxseed can be purchased at similar health food stores (or Dierbergs) and ground in a hand-held coffee grinder (small electric one works best). Only grind what you are going to use because it spoils quickly. Also, store the whole flaxseeds in the freezer.

The recommended daily "maintenance" dose for a otherwise healthy person is 1 Tablespoon of Flax Oil per 100 pounds of body weight.

A few of Dr. Budwig's books have been translated into English and include:

1. "Flaxoil as a True Aid Against Arthritis, Heart Infraction, Cancer, and Other Diseases" - this book is a series of lectures that she gave and explains some of her research

2. "Cancer - The Problem and the Solution" - another book that explains her research

3. "The Oil Protein Diet Cookbook" - recipes using flaxseed oil

Here are some other books on the benefits of flax including "healthy" cookbooks that incorporate flaxseed or other foods high in Omega-3:

4. "The Healing Power of Flax" by Herb Joiner-Bey

5. "The Flax Cookbook" by Elaine Magee

6. "The Amazing Flax Cookbook" by Jane Reinhardt-Martin

7. "The Omega Diet" by Artemis Simopoulos

I realize that I am giving you a lot of information here, but I thought it was so significant that it was worth sharing. Also, after incorporating this into my diet over the past 3 weeks I feel much improved, especially considering the stress that my body is under.

Kate is going to proceed with conventional treatment in addition to the modified diet, combined it's considered an integrative approach. Let's pray they work together to knock-out the cancer.

Saying Bye-Bye to Bon-Bon's,



Em said...

You da man Dave!!! Love all of your hard work!!! I'm greatful to the Creator of all things that He has given you access to this nutritional info. Kate will be a proverbs 31 woman... She looks for wool and FLAX and works with her hands in delight (using the blender) She is like the merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. ( Whole Foods) PV 31:13-14

Passionate about Jesus, Big G, my chidren and nutrition,

Anonymous said...


Thought you would like to know that my mom has been following a very similar diet to the one that you discussed tonight on the blog. She definitely reported, as you did, feeling generally much better overall after a few weeks. She found that when she did eat refined sugar, it was now distasteful to her, because she was no longer accustomed to it. The only hitch she has encountered with the dietary recommendations is that she has had trouble regaining the weight she lost after they removed part of her lung last spring (due to lung cancer.) That may in part have been due to the strenuous recovery, however, and she had a lot of physical therapy, which is draining.

Keep doing what you are doing, and know we are lifting you up in prayer.

Erika Byars, for us all

Lisa Kelley said...

WOW! I am astounded at what you found. First I am greatful that God has directed your research in a way that I know He will use to sustain your entire family. You continue to humble me with your sincere compassion for others in the midst of this trial. I continue to uplift your family and look forward to each success along the way.

Anonymous said...

Your new diet sounds like an excellent plan!

You didn't mention Trader Joe's, but they have flax products too. Their Soy/Flax Tortilla Chips are very tasty.

Christine Raquepaw

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing that info. keep us up to date on other nutritional info you find too!

Anonymous said...

wow! You guys have done tons of research! I apologize that I had not read up on your blog until after I brought your dinner tonight.
Keep up the great diet!
We continuously pray for your family.
Dawn Kim

Anonymous said...

What great information. I was so interested in all that you wrote. So much information in so little space. I pray that this will work for Kate and for many others that it is reaching out to. You never know who is out there reading this that it can help. Thanks for all your hard work and research.
My prayers to your family always,

aunt dee dee said...

dave, cheers to you for doing all this research so comprehensively and relentlessly. can you image finding this information without the internet? if that was the case, you would need a good librarian in the family to help you out (wink wink nodge nodge). hopefully, in the future my new job will be an asset to your research. and as an alumni, i still have the hook-up at UMSL's library, which has access, through their Inter-Library Loan department (whom i used to work for), to many distinguished medical libraries in the US. so if you are ever looking for a specific medical journal i can probably find it for you, most likely off of UMSL's database.

bakers said...

Great research! Thank you for sharing. Kate, you mentioned the sugar cravings and I had a thought for you - Mussleman's all natural applesauce (water, apples, Vitamin C) and cinnamon. Cinnamon has lots of good qualities-good for the vascular system. Another thought would be dried bananas, but you'll have to read the ingredient list as some have sugar added.


Anonymous said...

Just a note of encouragement. I have a friend who battled three different kinds of cancers, the first one was COMPLETELY healed using diet. A VERY strenuous diet and one most would not want to follow. She was dismissed by her doctors because she would not follow her treatment.

The second cancer came a couple years later and by this time she found an MD who was a veggan and whole heartedly supported her. This time the tumor was in her duoduam (sp?) and no chemo or radiation could help her without doing terrific damage.

She later became pregnant with her 5th child, quite by surprise! And developed HELPS disease. I am not sure what each letter stands for, but L is liver and P is pregnant! The ending was not so good this time. Her baby was born 8 wks early, Perfect! He could have gone home at 3 days old, but mom was too sick to leave, so he stayed with her. God knew his Dad needed him to be heathly becaues mama went him to Him a month later.
Now, How was that encouraging? God gave the family a great peace, as He always does, and great encouragement that DIET REALLY DOES HELP!

Foods are chemicals. Dr.s will put diabetics on diets that also include special timings, why, because the chemicals effect the person and it is in co-ordination with the chemicals in the stomach!

Go for it. I have several friends who have had cancer, did the chemo and the special diet and they felt MUCH better after the whole thing was over.

My sister had breast cancer and didn't hear of the diet stuff till the side effects 6 months after all treatment were too much for her. She did a juice fast for 2 wks and felt MUCH better. Unfortunately, she missed a good deal of her 1 yr olds life sleeping because of the treatments. GO FOR THE DIET. No doctor will tell you it can HURT you! It can only HELP!


Anonymous said...

Kate and I were in the 1 Peter study together this fall. My husband and I have been praying for you as well as praying whether to contact you in this other regard. George (husband) has a PhD in Nutrition and has been active in research. He would be willing to sit down and talk to you both about any questions you may have. He has contacts in the industry who are doing Omega studies as well as significant anticancer work. We were hesitant to offer before since you had so much information coming at you, but it seems you are eager to learn all you can. George's cell number is 314-610-9376. We are also in the new First Free directory.
In His grip,
laurie Collings

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate all the research you did and the fact that you posted your findings on the web. I found a link to your blog when I googled “Does cancer feed on sugar?” I had breast cancer and am currently undergoing chemotherapy

After reading your post, I went to my local health food store today and picked up some flax seed and some flax seed oil. I’m lactose intolerant, so I picked up some egg protein powder to mix with my chocolate soymilk, ground flax seed, and flaxseed oil. I also picked up a product called Pure Stevia Extract. It’s a natural sweetener my mother uses that contains no sugar. I thought I’d also try your smoothie idea with vanilla soymilk instead of yogurt, bananas, orange juice, and frozen strawberries. Using frozen strawberries means you don’t need to add ice.

Again, thanks so much for posting your findings. I was glad to read that Kate's latest MRI report was clear. Congratulations.

Stacey Lombardi

tom dillon said...

Look up DR David Sevan Screiber a neurological psychrist who believes his brain tumor is kept in control by avoiding foods that become sugar in the body right away.