Sugar, Cancer and the Warburg Effect

by Mike Mutzel


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, claiming some 600,000 lives annually. Historically cancer was thought to be caused by genetic mutations, but a new paradigm suggests cancer has metabolic origins. Glucose metabolism and mitochondrial function are important regulators of the tumor microenvironment.

That is: your nutrition habits and lifestyle have a huge influence on cancer risk and mortality. This video offers a deeper into the links between glucose metabolism and cancer:




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Zhong, X. et al. Warburg effect in colorectal cancer: the emerging roles in tumor microenvironment and therapeutic implications. J Hematol Oncol 15, 160 (2022).

Dang, C. V. Links between metabolism and cancer. Genes & Development 26, 877–890 (2012).

Potter, M., Newport, E. & Morten, K. J. The Warburg effect: 80 years on. Biochem Soc T 44, 1499–1505 (2016).

Dang, C. V. Links between metabolism and cancer. Genes & Development 26, 877–890 (2012).


Time Stamps:

00:00 Breast, lung, colon, and brain cancer have been linked with deranged cellular metabolism.

00:27 Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the US.

01:00 Normal cells aerobically breakdown carbohydrates and fats to create ATP.

01:50 Cancer cells, in the presence of oxygen, ferment glucose to make pyruvate and lactate.

03:10 Mitochondria regulate preprogrammed cell death.

05:10 Dysregulated glucose metabolism fosters a tumor microenvironment that favors expansive growth.

05:35 PET scan is diagnostic imaging tool which uses a radioisotope glucose, fluorodeoxyglucose, that helps to diagnose cancer.

07:00 Metformin, which decreases glucose, is being used in cancer treatment and therapeutics.

09:10 Tumors require a chronic overexpression of lactate. Exercise is a transient acute increase in lactate.10:04 Lactate can cause a cascade of events which helps the tumor grow more blood vessels.

11:25 By circumventing mitochondria for energy, it’s ability to induce apoptosis is inhibited.

13:00 Your microenvironment can foster or inhibit the growth of a tumor.

14:45 Cold immersion is a mitochondrial therapy.

15:40 There is an association with a lower risk for breast cancer, total cancers and colorectal cancers for people who follow dietary prevention guidelines.


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