Does Sugar Fuel the Growth of Cancerous Tumors?

Not if you consume it within recommended limits. Cancer cells do use sugar for energy, just like every other cell in your body, but a normal sugar intake has no direct effect on the growth of tumors. What’s normal? The dietary guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend limiting added sugar to 10 percent of your daily calories, or approximately 4 tablespoons.

colorful donuts

Animal studies suggest that too much sugar can have a negative impact on cancer progression. One study in the February 2016 issue of Nature found that feeding young mice enough sugar to cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and insulin resistance also promoted more tumor growth in their livers than in mice fed a low-sugar diet.

Another mouse study, published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Translational Medicine, found a typically Western, high-fat diet with sugar supplements in the form of high fructose corn syrup led to cell damage, inflammation, and tumor development. A high sugar intake also promotes weight gain, and while study results have been mixed, excess weight may increase your risk of cancer and cancer recurrence.