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Ensure and Boost May Be Harmful To Cancer Patients

Ensure and Boost, the two most popularliquid nutritional supplements recommended to cancer patients, may worsen their situation due to certain ingredients they contain.

Ensure and Boost are the two most recommended liquid nutritional supplements to cancer patients by oncologists and nutritionists. However, due to certain ingredients they contain, more and more consumers and medical professionals are questioning their effects on health. Certain cancer patients claim they experience signs of minor discomfort within days of drinking Boost or Ensure. For instance, Rafael Delvix, a nasopharyngeal cancer survivor, says “I cannot drink either of these nutritional drinks without experiencing certain allergic problems, regardless of the flavor.” 

Ingredients those critics mostly red flag include refined sugar, corn syrup solids, canola oil and corn oil, artificial flavor, hydrolyzed soy protein, Soy Protein Isolate.

Corn Syrup Solids

Corn syrup solid is used in a wide variety of drinks here in the United States, including Ensure, Boost, baby formulas, and others. To produce the solid corn syrup, producers dehydrate the liquid to 10 percent water. Corn syrup is totally glucose; to obtain high fructose corn syrup, fructose, another form of refined sugar, must be added. The problem is that it is demonstrated in many studies a link between these types of sugar and diabetes as well as obesity. Nobody can deny obesity can lead to a number of serious diseases, including cancers.

Dr. Mark Hyman, an American physician, scholar and New York Times best-selling author, says "Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacological doses of 140 pounds per person per year.” This estimate is for healthy people. Fragile individuals, especially cancer patients who are already struggling with weakened immune and adverse reactions of the conventional treatment may experience the effects of corn syrup more rapidly and severely.

Dr. Mark Hyman also states in an article entitled "Why you should never eat high fructose corn syrup", high fructose corn syrup is the real driver of the current epidemic of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, dementia, and of course, Type 2 diabetes.

Corn Oil

It is estimated that up to 95% of corn produced in the US are GMO, which is suspected as carcinogenic. Therefore, the oil is also genetically modified. Even in other countries such as Brazil, corn oil tends to be produced from GMO seeds. Although rejected by many big organizations, several studies have demonstrated that rats fed with GMOs have a very high risk of developing many serious illnesses, including malignant tumors. In a recent study by the Seralini’s group, Sprague-Dawley rats were fed with GMO corn for two years, eighty of the rodents developed cancer. Dr. Robin Bernhoft has also confirmed the study by stating “most of the female rats got breast cancer.  The male rats got inter-abdominal cancer.  There were problems with the kidneys, the liver and the pituitary”, referring to the same study.


It’s known to all that refined sugar is harmful to our body. In fact, cancerous cells love sugar. In case of people who are fighting cancer, any form of food that increases or facilitates reproduction of cancerous cells should be considered as an enemy to their recovery. Refined sugar not helps cancer cells proliferate but also weakens the immune system, making the patient more vulnerable to infection and metastases.  In the case of cancer survivors who have already have to fight against the side effects of the therapies and the anarchic reproduction of the tumor cells, sugar should be avoided, some health professionals advise.

Many studies have revealed excessive levels of insulin and glucose (hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia) in the blood can lead to not only diabetes mellitus but also malignant tumor of the pancreas. Some scientists believe that frequent consumption of refined sugar or sugar foods may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by inducing frequent postprandial hyperglycemia, increasing insulin demand, and decreasing insulin sensitivity.

In a four year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands, the researchers compared 111 cancer patients of biliary tract with 480 health controls. The research has shown that the risk of cancer with regular intake of sugar was more than doubled for patients. In addition, an epidemiological study conducted in 21 modern countries, including Japan and other countries in Europe and North America, found that sugar consumption greatly contribute to the increase rates of breast cancer, especially among elderly women.

However, these two liquid nutritional supplements, Ensure and Boost, remain very useful for cancer patients or very seriously ill people who are unable to eat solid foods in order to to get enough nutrients their body needs. The problem is associated with certain ingredients they contain.


1.       Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. “Consumption of sugar and sugar-sweetened foods and the risk of pancreatic cancer in a prospective study.”  Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):1171-6 – PMID  - 17093171 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE][pubmed/17093171]

2.       Leena Hilakivi‐Clarke, Juan E. Andrade, and William Helferich:  National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine  “Is Soy Consumption Good or Bad for the Breast?”

3.       Joseph Mercola. "This "Miracle Health Food" Has Been Linked to Brain Damage and Breast Cancer." Mercola.com 18 Sept 2010. (Accessed July 15, 2015)  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/09/18/soy-can-damage-your-health.aspx

4.       Moerman CJ, et al. Dietary sugar intake in the aetiology of biliary tract cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1993 Apr;22(2):207-14.

5.       Seeley S. Diet and breast cancer: the possible connection with sugar consumption. Med Hypotheses 1983 Jul;11(3):319-27.

6.       http://www.mercola.com/article/sugar/sugar_cancer.htm

7.       http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

8.       http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/high-fructose-corn-syrup_b_4256220.html

9.       Brown MD, Hart CA, Gazi E, Bagley S, Clarke NW. “Promotion of prostatic metastatic migration towards human bone marrow stoma by Omega 6 and its inhibition by Omega 3 PUFAs.” PMID:16523199[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID:PMC2361380

10.   Genetically Modified Foods: Are They Safe? Originally aired on 10/17/2012

11.   The Glutamate and Cancer Link: http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Dr-Blaylock/article/2012/06/07/id/482880/




NoTimeForCancer's picture

Actually, it is the highly processed soy, soy protein isolates, that the body processes like hormones that is potential bad for hormone-sensitive cancers.  I had this discussion with a dietician who specializes in helping cancer patients, and my agressive form of uterine cancer CANNOT be treated with hormones for that reason.  THAT is why I do not drink Boost, Ensure, and other protien shakes.

The only one I have found that is WHEY based is Atkins shakes. 

Thank you for the comment. I make my own engergy drink every morning, using fresh non-GMO vegetables and fruits. I grind and add about 2 tbsps of amaranth for protein. Try it, you will feel revitalized. For sweetener, i use either honey or birch xylitol.


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