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My take on sugar, alkalinity and cancer

Posts: 62
Joined: Jun 2009

As I keep losing posts, I'll try to start a new thread.

Somehow my post has been misinterpreted on the sugar-cancer thread to imply that I support the consumption of processed sugar (sucrose) without limitation. This was not my intention at all. I merely wished to point out that processed sugar is frequently demonized by many and that it "feeds" cancer. In my opinion, this is misguided and I will try to explain why I think this is so. This long post is as much for my own benefit to clarify my thinking as it is to provide information that can be verified by others. Most of the references that I am basing this on are undergraduate texts on
biochemistry and molecular cell biology. Feel free to dispute any of the claims here.

First of all, sucrose is enzymatically broken down (by sucrase) in the body into glucose and fructose (another simple sugar). Both sugars are used in metabolism by first enzymatically phosphorylating them
(by hexokinase) inside cells (in the cytoplasm) so that they cannot be easily transported out of the cell. The transport of glucose and fructose into the cell is controlled by different types of glucose transporters, GLUT4, which is activated by insulin, and GLUT1 and GLUT3, which do not require insulin. Thus insulin spikes lead to increased transport of glucose into the cells via GLUT4. Cancer cells are known to preferentially take up glucose (the Warburg effect). This happens because cancer cells are typically in a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment since they are poorly supplied in oxygen by blood vessels. The hypoxic environment leads to increased levels of the protein HIF-1-alpha (hypoxia inducible factor) that is normally kept in check by oxygen dependent degradation. The HIF protein regulates the transcription of many enzymes involved in glycolysis and growth factors, such as the VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor which promotes the formation of new blood vessels) and the GLUT1, GLUT3 transporters. Thus the cancer cell has a much higher level of enzymes involved in the conversion of glucose (and fructose) to pyruvate and 2 molecules of ATP, more glucose, and factors which promote the formation of blood vessels. Since there is little oxygen present, the pyruvate does not enter the mitochondria for oxidative phosphorylation (citric acid cycle, etc..) but undergoes a "fermentation" process in which pyruvate is converted into lactate (and NADH is oxidized to
NAD+, catalyzed by lactate dehydrogenase). The lactate can leave the cell and generally produces a locally acidic environment around the cancer cell.

I believe this is the origin of the statement that cancer thrives in an acidic environment. The reality is that the glycolysis pathway in cancer cells produces the acidic environment. The acidity is rapidly neutralized away from the cell by the natural buffering system in the body. Incidentally,
anaerobic metabolism of sugars also occurs in cells without mitochondria, such as red blood cells. The overall process is about 15 times less efficient than metabolism in the presence of oxygen, so a cancer cell must take up lots of glucose to survive (hence the importance of the GLUT1, GLUT3 transporters that do not depend on insulin). The upshot of all this is that depriving cells of glucose (low carb diet etc..) simply preferentially starves healthy cells, since cancer cells take up 10 to 15 times more glucose than normal cells.

Low sugar diets are dangerous, since glucose is fundamental to normal operation of cells, and particularly brain cells. They are also ineffective, since healthy cells are preferentially starved. Balanced, low calorie diets are a much more sensible way to fight cancer, and starvation conditions may even turn on some protective mechanisms in cells.

High insulin levels are to be avoided since they trigger higher concentrations of free insulin growth factor (IGF-1). There are receptors on the membranes of cells that are activated by IGF which stimulates cell growth through enhanced DNA synthesis, protein synthesis and cell division (via the RAS-RAF and Akt-mTOR pathways). This encourages tumor growth.

So the question remains, what foods provoke a large insulin response? This question is one where I have a fair amount of expertise since, in addition to having to deal with stage IIIc colon cancer, I have had type I diabetes for a number of years and have observed first-hand the connection between diet and insulin requirements.

The insulin response of foods is typically measured on a scale where pure glucose (i.e. dextrose or maltose) is given a score of 100. Table sugar (sucrose) has a score OF ONLY 61, since it is a
disaccharide (complex sugar) of glucose and fructose, and fructose is metabolized more slowly. I should emphasize that processed sugar produces only a moderate insulin response (not a huge insulin peak), comparable to sweet corn or orange juice. Some other scores are (source: "The New Glucose Revolution" by Brand-Miller et al.):
corn flakes: 80
white flour: 70
peanut M and Ms: 33
glutinous white rice: 92
white bagel: 72
raw banana: 52
milk chocolate: 42
and so on. The point is, the glycemic response to many common foods normally considered to be healthy is greater than that of processed sugar. My experiences are consistent with the table above. Based on
this information, I believe one should pay careful attention to the glycemic response (and portion size, determining the glycemic load) of foods and try to minimize the load as much as is comfortable. A diabetic diet is generally a common-sense, healthy diet.

As for the issue of alkalinity and cancer, the pH of blood plasma and in the cytoplasm of cells is tightly regulated to a nearly constant value by weak acid buffers. In the case of the blood plasma, one of the primary buffers is carbonic acid formed from dissolved carbon dioxide absorbed in the lungs. This buffering system adjusts very quickly to any injection of acidity since there is a readily available source of carbon dioxide. In the cytoplasm, phosphates, bicarbonates and weak acid side chains of amino acids effectively buffer the pH to a constant value. Thus, eating different foods does not change the pH in the blood or around most cells. It can influence the pH of urine,
which contains by-products of digestion, but this has no relevance to the local pH near cells.

I do think juicing and eating foods rich in anti-oxidants is a good way to provide a balanced and healthy diet (when not undergoing chemotherapy). Such a diet is particularly important for those
of us hoping to discourage a recurrence.

Good references:
Principles of Biochemistry, Lehninger, Fifth edition (2009)
Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts et al., Fifth Edition (2008)
The New Glucose Revolution, Brand-Miller et al., (1999)

Good health to all,

John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007

About the only thing you left out, is the fact that the increased
lactic acid from the cancer cells can overburden the liver, since
the liver takes lactic acid and turns it back into glucose.

The overburdening is worse when the liver also trying to take
the toxins of the chemical therapy that may have be applied, out
of your system.

The bottom line (as I thought I had attempted to explain) is
as "jscho" said:

"Low sugar diets are dangerous, since glucose is fundamental to
normal operation of cells, and particularly brain cells. They are
also ineffective, since healthy cells are preferentially starved. "

But, I disagree with the "low calorie diets" note. We should make
every attempt to eat a well balanced diet, regardless of caloric intake.
High calorie foods do not necessarily make them "bad foods", and
having some stored weight isn't necessarily a bad thing to have.

All that aside.......

"They" know how a cancer cell operates; how it stays alive,
and they know that keeping the cancer cell from specific proteins
it needs, will kill it..... Yet with all the donations, all the federal funding,
and all the needs, "they" manage to continue avoid finding a "cure".

It should make one wonder.

Posts: 62
Joined: Jun 2009

As you undoubtedly know, cancer is not a single disease as each case has a large number of genetic mutations, and even different cells in a tumor have different genetic characterstics. This, combined with the fact that mutations happen very quickly in cancer cells when natural checks and balances are removed (such as mutations in oncogenes or p53/Rb), makes cancer difficult to treat with single biological agents. The cancer cells adapt to therapeutic agents thrown their way, and chemoresistance results.

I don't believe the conspiracy theories about a magical cure for cancer because of the difficulty in dealing with a rapidly mutating system (like HIV, common cold etc.). I also think that any scientist
who did discover such a cure would be showered in such wealth and glory (Nobel etc..) that this would trump pressure from big pharma.

Just my opinion,

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Since glucose has the highest glycemic load, following a diet with minimal glycemic load seems to boil down to minimizing glucose. Yet you say that minimizing glucose is not advisable, because it deprives normal cells of the glucose they need. Is this not contradictory? And if you lower glucose levels to starve cancer cells, why can't normal cells make do with other sugars, which are not as useful to the cancer cells?


John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007

Since you can't starve a cancer cell of glucose without starving
normal cells.....

And since the cancer cell will use glucose so much faster than
a normal cell....

If you attempt to "starve cancer" by eliminating sugar (glucose),
you will do more harm to the normal cell than you would to the
cancer cell. It really is that simple.

If you go to the "Syracuse Cancer Research Center" website,
and read Dr. Gold's explanation, I think you might be a bit
more impressed.

I am not promoting -anything- as a cure, but I do feel that
there is more out there to solve cancer problems, than what
is presently being offered.

A cancer victim should not allow themselves to be further
victimized by "the system". Read, explore, demand explanations,
and stop fearing failure.

Better health to all!

PGLGreg's picture
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There is a critical discussion by Saul Green of Dr. Gold's theories at Quackwatch: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/hydrazine.html


John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007


Do yourself a favor, and take a good read at the SCRC link
I posted.

I can understand one's desire to protect their choice of medicine
when it comes to a fight for life or death, but I've always believed
in the concept that:
"Where there is no vision, the people perish."

My choice may be good or bad, as is anyone else's choice,
but no-one should embark down a path that's been churning
out failures for a long, long time, doing so by blinding themselves
to other routes that can prove to be more viable.

An open mind is crucial.

Good health!

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Well, I did spend some time reading at Dr. Gold's site. While I can't give any sort of expert critique, not knowing any biochemistry, I do get the impression that Dr. Gold and his supporters are raving paranoiacs, immoderate in speech and ill-considered in their judgments. You're wasting your time with this stuff.


Posts: 62
Joined: Jun 2009

In my opinion the best way to meet the carbohydrate requirements of the body is through a low glycemic load diet. This means that one avoids food with a high load in favor of sources of carbohydrate that
do not provoke sharp insulin responses. Insulin response can be reduced by slowing the digestive system by combining foods of high index with low index foods rich in fiber. Fruit juices and drinks/foods containing corn syrup are very bad in terms of glycemic response when taken by themselves.

Note that the best source of glucose is through complex carbohydrates that require a lot of time to digest.

I am not in favor of a starvation diet where the caloric requirements of the body are not met. There is evidence that such a diet has life-prolonging/rejuvenating effects in rats. It would not be an easy
diet to practice, and would be especially dangerous for cancer patients who actually require more calories when they have significant tumor load.


John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007


"I don't believe the conspiracy theories about a magical cure for
cancer because of the difficulty in dealing with a rapidly
mutating system (like HIV, common cold etc.). I also think that
any scientist who did discover such a cure would be showered in
such wealth and glory (Nobel etc..) that this would trump
pressure from big pharma."

Please take some time to read "Dr. Gold's" experiences regarding
a compound that's been used for years. You can find it at the
"Syracuse Cancer Research Center".

It's an interesting read. I have two bottles of the capsules that
I will use if and when I mover to stage four or beyond.

"SCRC: does not sell that compound, nor any other compounds;
It is a non-profit organization.

After reading that, search for the beginning of Oxford's "Trovax".
Read about what they have tested for, and the types of treatments
and cancer it should be used for.

The testing that is now being done by "investors", are almost the
opposite of what Oxford used as models. It is also being tested
for adjunctive therapy, which is was never before tested to be used for.
It is failing tests now, because the testing of the medication is not being
done to the specifications of Oxford.

There is a very marked similarity of the "testing procedures" of Trovax
and the SCRC compound.

It's like buying a new car after being told you it will get 25 miles per gallon
for "around town" at 35 mph..... then decide to test the mpg by driving at
excess of 80 mph.... and then complain you can't get better than 18 mpg.

It may not be a "conspiracy" of the corporate world, but only a "protection
of one's vested interests".

Cancer is a multi-billion dollar industry. But the fact is, nothing has changed
in over 40 years.

It's a disgrace.

Posts: 62
Joined: Jun 2009

Thanks for the link. Dr. Gold certainly presents an interesting case. Human factors, such as jealousy and other personal motivations, frequently play a role in funding and publication of scientific work. It does seem that some of these factors are present. I don't know Dr Gold, and I don't know what is going on behind the scenes, so it is difficult to judge the validity of his accusations on the willful suppression of work on hydrazine sulfate (HS). If I had to guess, personality conflicts between some of the researchers on HS and the directors of the governmental boards play a big role here.

As for HS itself, I would be cautious taking it since it interferes with normal metabolism if you are exercising, diabetic, or taking Ativan or other anti-depressants. It should only be done under informed medical direction. The mechanism of its action makes sense (inhibition of PEP carboxykinase in gluconeogenesis), and it may be quite helpful in avoiding weight loss in individuals with significant tumor load. I am more skeptical about its effect on tumors, since targeting glucose levels seems a pretty indirect way of restricting tumor growth (compared to targeted therapy based on biological agents) even though cancer cells require more glucose. I'll look at some of the original literature to see why the ACS and Sloan-Kettering take the attitude they do.
(see http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/69260.cfm )


John23's picture
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Since HS is an MAOI, there is a -very- strict need to stick to a
diet that's suited to an MAOI - - and using an MAOI means not taking
most of the drugs that might have been previously prescribed.

That was the problem of the Sloan-Kettering, etc., testing; they did not
stick to the diet, nor did they restrict medications that would interfere
with the working of HS/MAOI. In effect, their tests were predestined
to fail. The reasons why could be as naive as "jealousy and other personal
motivations", or quite a bit more sinister...... As I had earlier said, in efforts
to protect "corporate interests", actions are frequently taken that are not
so forthcoming, or moral.

As far as the HS interfering with other meds... Yes indeed, just as any
MAOI would; no more, no less. "The Syracuse Cancer Research Institute"
is quite plain with it's suggestion to take the drug under supervision
of a medical practitioner.


Although I am a strong proponent for Traditional Chinese Medicine,
and encourage avoiding any/all pharmaceuticals.... in the case of
greatly advanced cancer (and the overwhelming draining effect it has
on the body), any chemical that can stop the cancer cells from
consuming our body's energy, is worth a shot.

Chemotherapy kills any cell that is growing at a faster rate than
most other cells; it is non-discriminatory, killing hair, bone marrow,
liver cells, etc., along with the larger cancer cells. "Chemo" has little
effect of single, or slow growing cancer cells, since they are not
growing faster than other "normal" cells. HS seems to isolate a
cancer cell, and defeat it's intake of glucose.

"Trovax" was brought into the spotlight as "Immunotherapy".
Oxford did not intend it to be used as an adjunctive to "Chemo",
since it was designed to allow your immune system to locate
cancer cells specifically, and destroy the cancer cell.

Chemotherapy destroys our immune system; it greatly impairs it.
How can Immunotherapy be expected to work, if it's taken
with a drug that damages the immune system?

That is why Sloan-Kettering and other testing with Trovax appears
to be so similar in intent, as it was with HS and many other products
that at first appeared to be hopeful contenders to "Chemo".

I'd like to see every cancer victim rid themselves of cancer.
If it takes trying other than the failed mainstream products,
then that's what it takes.

Shed the fear of the unknown, and live.

Best of health!

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Sloan-Kettering did not "stick to the diet" in their tests, I would suppose, because they weren't testing "the diet". They were testing HS. It's natural enough for Dr. Gold to interpret the contrary experimental results in light of his own peculiar theories, but why should the researchers at Sloan-Kettering design or interpret their experiments in accordance with Gold's theories? They don't believe Gold's theories. Gold doesn't get to dictate how other researchers design their experiments. That's not the way independent confirmation (or lack thereof) works.


John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007


"Sloan-Kettering did not "stick to the diet" in their tests, I
would suppose, because they weren't testing "the diet". "

With all respect and kindness intended...

An MAOI can -not- be used with (most all) drugs; HS is an MAOI.

If you are taking an MAOI, you can not eat "just anything"; you
absolutely -must- stick to a diet that will not interfere with the MAOI.

There are no exceptions.

MAOI drugs have been around for a very long time, and are
continued being marketed worldwide. The strict diet, and absence
of most all other medications has -always- been the requirement,
if you are taking an MAOI.

There are no exceptions.

Before arguing or debating further, please read about MAOIs
and their complexity.

"Sloan-Kettering" ignored the rules of medical science, and the basic
"rules" of an MAOI. Testing an MAOI while not following the most
basic prescription for an MAOI, will cause the tests to be in error.

Please understand what an MAOI is, then try to understand why
there is indeed, something wrong with the handling of the tests for "HS".

Forming a blind opinion not based on facts, never accomplishes
anything worthwhile. When there are people dying of cancer,
and their doctors are telling "there is nothing left".......

It should be known, that there is indeed, something else.

In fact, there are many other things "else".

Good health to you.

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Could you please, John, provide some substantiation, independent of Dr. Gold's theories, of all these assertions of yours which lead us to the conclusion that Sloan-Kettering researchers "ignored the rules of medical evidence"? As you say, I should not form a "blind opinion not based on facts", but my problem is that you're not providing any facts, other than repeating what Dr. Gold says. Are your opinions based on facts?


John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007


Without belaboring this off-topic any further......

Yes, I took the time and effort to validate each of the claims.

Anyone can do the same as easy, since "Dr. Gold" listed all his
references quite plainly. All the names, places, and times are there
in print for anyone to research to their heart's content.

It's really very easy to do, if one really has a desire to learn.

I'm not here to argue or promote; only to make known valid alternatives
for those individuals that are about to give up, because western medicine's
given up on them.

There are alternatives.

You can have the last word, Greg. I'm sorry to have continued this
off-topic subject this far.

I do hope someone in need, has found some help from all this.

Stay healthy.

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4837
Joined: May 2005

I know a friend who has a friend with a brain tumor. He's been following a high alkaline diet along with some chemo/radiation and is having some good results following a grim diagnosis.
Here is the chart if anyone is interested.

kristasplace's picture
Posts: 950
Joined: Oct 2007

I've been following the discussion, and i did get lost somewhere in there! I haven't researched the MAOI's, or anything, so i won't go there.

The glucose theory that sugar feeds cancer is established. Someone got the Nobel prize for proving that (i read it in one of my dozens of books that i don't remember the name of. May have been the Anticancer book). Anyway, as cancer people, we're not recommended to eat any kind of sugar, good or bad. I don't believe that's healthy. I believe that if we only eat healthy, natural sugar from raw fruits and vegetables (and nothing else), we're creating an environment where cancer can't exist (a raw diet is extremely alkaline).

As far as diabetes, i was diagnosed with it about six months ago. Since changing my diet to primarily raw, the diabetes is no longer detectable. I use agave nectar, raw honey, and dates for sweeteners. By the way, i'm listing that pie recipe tonight!

I think the only way we're going to know what works for curing cancer is by experimenting with different options ourselves. Like John said, if chemo no longer works, try a drastic change with diet. After two months being raw, i no longer find it a pain in the a$$. We're very adaptable creatures us humans.

I wish us all glorious health free of cancer!


Posts: 62
Joined: Jun 2009

Sorry to drudge this post up again, but I was away on a brief trip with my wife to celebrate finishing adjuvant chemo.

It was Otto Warburg who received a Nobel prize for showing that cancer cells typically process glucose and form ATP using primarily glycolysis and lactate fermentation. As John23 pointed out, the lactate is then reconverted back into glucose in the liver, which effectively costs energy. The glucose is then taken up predominantly by cancer cells, which amounts to the cancer cell resupplying itself with glucose in a way that is beneficial to tumor cells at the expense of normal cells. This is one of the major reasons that people with heavy tumor load lose a lot of weight.

It is important to remember that Warburg, although a visionary, received the Nobel prize for work carried out in the 1920s, and much work has been done since then. For example, he believed that the pH around cancer cells was directly correlated with local oxygen supplies. This has been shown not to be the case. He also believed that changes in metabolism were responsible for cancer, rather than mutations in oncogenes (or tumor suppressor genes).

Again, sugar is not the problem and supplies all cells with energy. I don't believe in the advice that cancer patients should avoid sugar, "good or bad". We should have a healthy, balanced diet, which should include some carbohydrates (i.e. sugars). Usually, complex carbohydrates are preferable, as mentioned in my initial post.

I am a type I diabetic (do not produce insulin) and unfortunately, diet helps to reduce the amount of insulin I inject but does not reverse the disease. I am able to observe directly the glycemic load of different foods, though, and many factors that produce insulin spikes are surprising.

Juicing, eating lots of fiber and vegetables, buying organic produce, focusing on foods with lots of natural anti-oxidants are all good in my book.

Best to all,

Posts: 6
Joined: Oct 2009

Having Stage 4 Colon cancer and being on chemo for 18 months I have done a lot of exeprimentation backed by lab results on a weekly basis. It showed that when I ate sugarized food like chocolate cake, ice cream and fruits and such. CEA went up, WBC went down to bellow normal, total billirubin went up above normal. Following week stopped eating sugar items as well as fruits and everything bouced back to normal as I am doing organic vegetable juicing and other things parallel to chemo.

Hope this helps the readers.

Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2010

My thought is to go to a high protein low carb diet. This would greatly reduce available sucrose and glucose. May be even take drugs that suppress sucrase (anyone know of any?). Then supplement with pyruvate. This would give the healthy cells pyruvate for the Citric acid cycle which produces a lot more ATPs than glycolosis. Normal cells would get all the energy and cancer cell wont. I can not think of a reason why this would not work. Any thoughts anyone. My wife was recently diagnosed with Lung cancer and I'm looking for any approach for a cure.

Scambuster's picture
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I suggest you read The China Study by Dr T Colin CAMPBELL. He noted that high protein (animal protein) was directly correlated to progress of cancer. Casein, (Milk Protein) in particular was the culprit but the book continues and show evidence that animal protein is not good for us, especially Cancer patients. The study makes very good sense, hence may folks follow a Vegan diet. Vegetable protein on the other hand did not appear to lead to promotion or progress so you may wish to take this into consideration for your wife.


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