I was told that sugar causes cancer or if you have cancer will feed the cancer cells. Is this true? "

Sugar is not a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substance. However, over-consumption of sugar, particularly added sugars in processed beverages and foods, can contribute to obesity which is an important risk factor for cancer. There is no evidence that consuming sugar makes cancer cells grow faster or cause cancer.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has reviewed all available evidence to update the Australian Dietary Guidelines and concluded that consumption of sucrose is not associated with an increased risk of cancer. There was sufficient evidence to conclude that there was no association between sugars and cancer of the pancreas, bowel, breast and bladder. There was no evidence of a direct association between sugar consumption and an increased risk of cancer of any type.

There is a view that sugar “feeds” cancer cells. Most cancer cells grow faster than normal cells and therefore require more energy. It has been shown that glucose metabolism is often altered in cancer cells to meet the increased demand for glucose. However, this does not mean that consuming sugar will make cancer cells grow faster or cause cancer. All foods are broken down into glucose as all cells, not just cancer cells, require glucose for energy.

Cancer Council encourages healthy eating and avoiding excess weight gain to help protect against cancer and supports the Australian Dietary Guidelines that recommend people enjoy a wide variety of foods from the five food groups each day. We also recommend limiting the intake of foods containing added sugars such as biscuits, cakes, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, energy and sports drinks.