How do cancer cells make energy?
Cancer cells do not use oxygen to make energy with the mitochondria.
In a typical cell, the energy factories are the mitochondria. They can be considered little energy cells. They take in glucose(sugar) and oxygen and make ATP. ATP is the cell's molecule of energy currency. It is used to perform all the functions of the cell. This includes cell membrane integrity, detoxification, cell division, protein synthesis, and DNA repair. Without enough ATP, the cell struggles. The mitochondria take oxygen and glucose and through a process of aerobic respiration make 32 ATP per 1 glucose molecule. Aerobic means in the presence of oxygen.
This is where cancer cells are broken and where they can be exploited. Cancer cells have dysfunctional mitochondria. In other words, the energy factories aren't working doing aerobic respiration. Since aerobic metabolism is not working in cancer cells, they must use anaerobic metabolism. This process is much less efficient. No oxygen is used. The cell doesn't use the mitochondria and the process of energy production is done in the cell cytoplasm(the general fluid inside the cell). The key is the inefficiency of the process. Anaerobic metabolism takes 1 Glucose molecule and only make 2 ATP. This is a dramatic reduction in energy production compared to 32 ATP per glucose for aerobic metabolism. Therefore, cancer cells need a lot more glucose(sugar) to maintain themselves.
Other effects of sugar on the body.
When refined sugars are consumed, the intestines break down the sugar very rapidly and absorb it very rapidly. This causes a spike in the blood level of sugar. The body likes to maintain a relatively flat baseline level of sugar in the blood. Therefore, the pancreas makes insulin to chase the sugar as it increases and drive the sugar back down to baseline. High sugar consumption leads to higher levels of insulin production overall.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone. Being an anabolic hormone(not steroid) means that it causes cells to grow and increase metabolism as opposed to slowing or stopping growth. Insulin is also needed for sugar to enter into cells through the cell membrane.
Insulin is needed for cells to function and in the wrong environment of a cancer cell can stimulate more growth.
Let's put it together.
Cancer cells need a lot of sugar to survive because they use an inefficient anaerobic method to create energy(ATP).
Eating high amounts of sugar provides high amounts of sugar for cancer cells.
Eating high amounts or sugar creates high amounts of insulin in the body.
Insulin is needed for sugar to enter into cells.
Insulin is also an anabolic hormone causing cells to grow.
Eating more sugar = more sugar in the blood = more insulin produced = more sugar gets into cells to be metabolized = more cancer cell growth.
This is how sugar feeds cancer cells!!
Now reverse the logic.
If we keep our sugar consumption low, then the insulin levels will be low. Cancer cells need the sugar and insulin to survive because of their broken and inefficient energy production process.
Eating low sugar starves the cancer cells and puts them at a disadvantage to the other cells of the body, such as the immune system cells that can come through and clean up more easily because the cancer cells are less robust.
Low sugar diet examples.
Low sugar is less than 20 grams of carbs per day.
A ketogenic(high fat) diet also fulfills the criteria.
Also, and interestingly, patients undergoing cancer treatment, of any kind, had better outcomes when eating a low carb diet. This is obvious because a low carb diet creates a more hostile environment for cancer cells to live in and they are more easily terminated.
As always, if the situation becomes overwhelming, seek professional help regarding your physical and mental symptoms.