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The Importance Of Glucose Levels And Cancer Cells
Posted: Jun 06, 2023
The Importance Of Glucose Levels And Cancer Cells image

The Importance Of Glucose Levels And Cancer Cells

Patients with MDS often exhibit altered glucose (sugar) metabolism. This can contribute to the growth of MDS. Studies have shown that “MDS actively undercuts the ability of normal cells to consume glucose, thus leaving more glucose available to feed its own growth.”

Cancer cells consume glucose at a higher rate than healthy cells. Slowing disease progression and prolonging survival are the goals for any treatment. MDS can induce insulin resistance which provides an environment where cancer cells can continue to grow. “Stress from cancer and its treatments can cause your body to release various hormones that increase blood sugar. This can weaken your immune system.”

The immune system needs to be strong and healthy to fight MDS cell growth. Radiation treatment, steroids and chemotherapy can all impact blood sugar levels. “Uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to dehydration, which is a frequent side effect of chemotherapy.  Taking extra care to manage your blood sugar levels can help you stay hydrated and feel better during treatment.” (8-18% of cancer patients have diabetes. And, hyperglycemia during chemotherapy occurs in approximately 10-30% of patients.)

The goal is to starve cancer cells and leave normal, healthy cells alone. Previous studies have shown that the glucose metabolism in a cancer cell can be reprogrammed. This increases the success of treatment. Cancer patients are encouraged to create a lifestyle similar to those with diabetes:

  • Follow a healthy eating plan- avoid sweets, high-fat meats and salty snacks, eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables, eat lots of whole grains and very little processed foods. (An oncology dietician can help with food plans.)
  • Eat frequent meals to keep blood sugar balanced.
  • Get regular exercise, if you can. Any physical activity can help the body use blood sugar.
  • Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water.
  • Manage stress and do not drink alcohol.
  • Periodic fasting can be “quite effective at reducing MDS progression at later stages associated with high disease burden.”

It is helpful to keep track of your health. Record your cancer treatments, blood sugar level, medications, side effects and eating plan highlights. This information can help you and your doctor pinpoint any health issues and their causes. Ask your specialist about each drug you take and its effect on blood sugar.

Cancer cells often crave sugar because they take up more glucose than normal cells. “The sugars which actually feed your cancer cells are the refined sugars, brown sugar, corn syrup, or white sugar, which have the cancer cells to grow, but not fruit sugar. In fact, fruit sugar helps your cancer cells to shrink because of its high fiber and vitamin and mineral density,”

As a cancer patient, keep your glucose levels balanced by the lifestyle choices you make. Signs of severe high blood sugar levels:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Extreme thirst.
  • Light-headedness.
  • Flushed or dry skin.
  • Difficulty waking up.
The author Lisa Foster

about the author
Lisa Foster

Lisa Foster is a mom of 3 daughters, a puzzle lover, writer and HealthTree advocate. She believes in the mission of the foundation and the team that builds it forward. She calls Houston, Texas home. 

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