Calories, Carbs and Cancer

More than 125 years ago, Vienna medical student Ernst Freund noticed a strange phenomenon in some of his patients. Similar to diabetics, those with cancer had an “abnormal sugar content” in their blood that disappeared after surgical removal of the tumor. Some decades later, as a professor, he and others showed that compared to normal cells, cancer cells have a particularly sweet tooth in the sense that they would take up large amounts of glucose from culture medium which would stimulate their rapid growth. The most famous experiments were conducted by Otto Warburg and his colleagues in the 1920s at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Biology in Berlin. Warburg, a German biochemist and later Nobel laureate, had shown that tumor cells distinguish themselves from almost all normal cells through their preference to ferment glucose to lactate in a process known as glycolysis (1, 2). Continue reading