Carbohydrates are addictive

You think carbohydrates aren’t addictive?  You think it’s easy to give them up?  You don’t think it possible that people might prefer carbs to life?

Think again.

A story appeared in the online version of Time Magazine last year that I read when it came out, put aside to blog about later, then got sidetracked.  A reader sent me a link to it a few days ago, which brought it back to the front of my mind.

The article discusses a study being done in Germany using a carb-restricted diet to fight cancer.  In pre-WWII days, a German scientist, Otto Warburg, received a Nobel Prize for his work in sussing out the fact that cancer cells don’t generate energy the same way that normal cells do.  Cancer cells get their energy, not like normal cells, from the mitochondrial oxidation of fat, but from glycolysis, the breakdown of glucose withing the cytoplasm (the liquid part of the cell).  This different metabolism of cancer cells that sets them apart from normal cells is called the Warburg effect.  Warburg thought until his dying day that this difference is what causes cancer, and although it is true that people with elevated levels of insulin and glucose do develop more cancers, most scientists in the field don’t believe that the Warburg effect is the driving force behind the development of cancer.

But it stands to reason that it can be used to treat cancer that is already growing.  Since cancers can’t really get nourishment from anything but glucose, it stands to reason that cutting off this supply would, at the very least, slow down tumor growth, especially in aggressive, fast-growing cancers requiring a lot of glucose to fuel their rapid growth.

Thomas Seyfried (the same Thomas Seyfried mentioned in the article) has shown that ketogenic diets in animals and humans can stop malignant brain tumors.  There is no reason to believe they wouldn’t work in humans as well.

A group in Germany is looking at such diets in a small pilot study.  Patients are only admitted to the study when all standard therapies – chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc. – have failed and they have basically been sent home to die.  In fact, a few were so far gone that they died within the first week of starting the study. You couldn’t ask for a study group more destined for failure, but, according to the Times article

The good news is that for five patients who were able to endure three months of carb-free eating, the results were positive: the patients stayed alive, their physical condition stabilized or improved and their tumors slowed or stopped growing, or shrunk.

If you understand the Warburg effect and the metabolism of cancer cells, it’s easy to see why this therapy works, even in patients who at at death’s door.  Since the cancers can use only glucose, and since glucose is made in the cancer cells slowly and inefficiently, the cancer cells have to rely on outside glucose to provide nourishment for their rapid growth and replication.  People on very-low-carb diets produce ketones, which take the place of glucose in other cells that can use these ketones for fuel.  But cancer cells can’t use the ketones since ketones have to be burned in the mitochondria, which are dysfunctional in cancer cells.  If you can keep blood sugar low, then growth of the cancer cells may be held in check long enough for the body’s own previously overwhelmed immune system to rally and beat the vulnerable cancer back.

Now, given all this, if you had a big cancer eating you alive and you were offered a chance for salvation by doing nothing more than following a low-carb diet, would you take it?  I certainly would.  But, not everyone does. I was stunned to read the comments of Dr. Melanie Schmidt, one of the researchers, about people dropping out of the study.

[Some] dropped out because they found it hard to stick to the no-sweets diet: “We didn’t expect this to be such a big problem, but a considerable number of patients left the study because they were unable or unwilling to renounce soft drinks, chocolate and so on.”

Let me see if I’ve got this right.  A lifesaving therapy is offered to patients who have undergone the misery of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, and who are beyond hope, and this therapy requires nothing more than eating a lot of butter, meat, cream, cheese, etc. while avoiding most carbohydrates.  And a considerable number” drop out because they can’t give up carbs?

I say it again.  And you don’t think carbs are addictive?

As a coda to this post, I’ve got to tell you that MD at this very moment is rolling out a fondant that she made a couple of days ago.  She was dragooned into making the birthday cake for our granddaughter whose party is tomorrow.  The kid doesn’t want a store-bought birthday cake, she wants a custom-made cake by her Nanny, which has become a tradition.  She wants a Razor (a Swat Kat) cake, so MD is having to free-hand it.  Although she’s never made a fondant before, she figured that would be the easiest way to frost and decorate the cake she has in mind.  I wandered over to get a cup of coffee and pulled off a tiny piece of the stuff and popped in my mouth just to see what it tasted like.  Her fondant is made with powdered sugar, corn syrup, and lard (not the vegetable shortening called for in the recipe), and it is good beyond belief.  I’m sitting here writing this post, and after a tiny, tiny piece (maybe 3/4 inch by 1/2 inch by 1/8 inch) of fondant, I am obsessing over how easy it would be to walk the 10 feet to where it is and start throwing it down by the handfuls.  So, yes, carbs are addictive.  Especially the carb-fat combo.

Lest you get the wrong idea, our granddaughter’s parents keep her on a kid’s version of the low-carb diet most of the time.  The cake is a once a year deal.  Thank God.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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115 thoughts on “Carbohydrates are addictive

  1. I’ve read about cancer cells using glucose for fuel before somewhere else where it was only briefly mentioned, so I’ve really enjoyed reading this somewhat more thorough explanation – more power to me when discussing low-carb diets with friends .)

    what really caught my attention was the headline though, because I’ve been struggling with keeping carbs low over the last couple of weeks since I’ve had a bit more work and stress than what I’m used to (I’m only a university student…). hopefully this information will help me stay away from anything sweet for a few days or weeks (at which point I’ll need another blog entry somewhere to remind me)

    btw, the headline also reminded me of this jack lalanne clip – (in case it hasn’t been mentioned on this blog before)

    Hey Vasco–

    Good luck staying out of the carbs. I have seen the Jack LaLanne video. In fact, I had a post about Jack that included this video a while back.



    • I have metastatic cervical cancer with a grim prognosis. I have active tumors in my right rib, rectus abdominis mucsle near by and two active lymph nodes in the area.
      I immediately went very low carb when I felt the cancer was back. In the two weeks between the first scan and the second my tumors had not changed in size. I will be anxious to see how weakening them this way aids in chemotherapy which should start soon. I will update my results here. I have lost about 12 pounds so far as well as a confirmation of the levels I am maintaining.

        • Thanks for the vote of support.
          I am seeking hyperthermia treatment at a major university combined with chemo and perhaps radiation. I hope that they accept me. I am in perfect health otherwise. Just went jet skiing today. Seems crazy this thing is trying to kill me and I feel fantastic.
          My present physians are nice folks but they are only offering chemo.

          • Hi Sally, sorry to know of your cancer. I’m a PET technologist and meet dozens of people with the same health issue every year. Where are you having your PET scans done? Good luck with your chemo and any and all other therapies. Don’t give up! I’m rooting for you. Take care,

          • My pet/ct’s are being done locally at Park South Imaging. I was goind to a different company originally. I can see what a big difference a skilled reader can make. I had an outwardly visible tumor in the fat/muscle area below my right rib for months. To each dr. I would say “hey, I am having fevers ever three weeks of 103 degrees for 2 days and I have this lump right here.” Know one sounded the alarm. We scurried off looking at gallbladder etc. The radiation guy had made a small note of it as probably an injection site. Months late arpil-sept he said finally that it should be biopsied.
            The new team is very detailed and thorough. More time to set up scan and more detailed reports.

          • I’ve heard of this type of situation more than once before. Glad you’re on the right track now. Is Park South in the Bronx? I know Dr. Fine, I worked with him in Nuclear Medicine at Jacobi some time ago. He’s a good guy. Tell him I said Hi when you see him. Best of luck and keep us all posted. Jim

      • Sorry to hear about this. My understanding is that once cancer is well established, there is usually more than one metabolic/genetic derangement going on. So you may need more than one mode of attack. I’m guessing normalizing vit D might also help. Supplementing with MCTs such as coconut oil could help increase ketone levels.

        Good luck! Please document and report on what you’re doing in hopes that it might prove useful to someone else.

        • Thanks Cynthia, I will look into that. I have spoken with Dr. Fine at length from Einstein University. He has conducted brief human tests on this.
          He expresses some concern in the complex nature of cancer cells and that they may go into a dormant mode which might not be good before chemo.
          But all in all…his research supports lower tumor growth on low carb.

  2. I will never deny the power of carbohydrates. I am currently drowning in the swamp of their syrupy sweetness, my will power all but obliterated.

    Steady on. If I an deny myself the fondant, you can make it, too.

  3. If we were to be rigorous about it, I guess we’d need to understand the extent to which the patients genuinely believed the treatment program would work for them (given that it was experimental) before drawing conclusions about the power of carbs addiction to derail sensible human behaviour. But I realise you are illustrating a point rather than suggesting anything has been proven.

    As one of those people who in a former life was unable to open a packet of cookies without devouring every one, I buy into the carb-addiction theory entirely. Until recently I had a once-per-year ritual in which my friend and I would eat as much cake as we wanted, often getting to the point where perforated innards seemed likely. A night of much abdominal pain invariably followed. That my body allowed me to do this without complaining until purely physical limitations came to bear, is evidence enough for me…

    As I understand it, the subjects weren’t dragooned into this study – they were volunteers. And, I’m sure they went over countless documents before signing themselves in. But once in, the call of the carbs was too much. Because they are addictive.

  4. Has anyone looked into combining ketogenic diet, like at Atkins Induction levels with Chemo/Radiation/Other Destroy the Cancer types of treatments? It would seem that, if you had an inoperable brain tumor and were genetically gifted enough to process carbs without developing the diseases of civilization, you might want to go back to carbs at some point. A combination of starving the cancer and irradiating or chemoblasting it in it’s weakened, starved state, might rid you even better than one treatment by itself.

    Just curious.

    There is such a treatment. It’s called insulin potentiation therapy. I wrote about it in an earlier post.

  5. It’s nice to see more comments on the carb/cancer connection. I first read about it at Dr. Mercola’s site – That article focused on glucose, rather than carbs, but it’s a start, and from a major cancer treatment house too.

    There is no doubt in my mind that carbs are addictive! And so many people translate that to mean “if my body craves it, it must need it”. Very hard to overcome. If someone could come up with a natural way to block that craving, they could be very rich indeed.

  6. I watched a PBS special this week that focused on the medically uninsured in our country and followed four people through the system. The contention of the documentary (and I’m not disputing this) is that there is a double standard of care. Those with insurance get quicker treatment, a wider range of options, and live longer lives. In fact, two of the people did die during the time the film maker tracked their experiences within the medical system. What just about knocked me over was that two of the three suffered from type 2 diabetes and were overweight/obese. It showed them testing their blood and having readings in the 400s and over. “You need to take some insulin for that”, a family member would chide, while the sick person looked clueless. There was alot of ranting at the government and medical professionals for not taking care of people, but I heard no mention of taking care of your own health. I felt bad watching these good people suffer( exactly what the director aimed for), but I also felt disgusted. I felt like shouting, cut the carbs! Lose some weight! Walk around the block! Give up the cigs! The love of carbs left one man dead and another without a foot. Losing weight has been great, but getting my A1C to 5.8 with low carb eating is my greatest reward. Take care and keep writing :) Janet

  7. I agree that carbs are addictive, but I also suspect that because they viewed themselves as beyond hope, and having just been raked over the coals of various unsuccessful therapies, some of the patients would be extremely skeptical about trying yet another therapy. I can easily imagine someone saying, “The heck with this. Give me my sweets and leave me the heck alone.”

    As I mentioned earlier, these folks went into the study volitionally and had it all explained to them at the start. Maybe they did believe they were beyond hope and figured, what the heck, I may as well enjoy my last few weeks. But if carbs weren’t as addictive as they are, I doubt that that many would have bolted from the study.

  8. I have thought about this a lot. Since I started low carbing my BG is rarely below 6.0 mmol/l (even on Actos).
    If someone with an aggressive cancer were doing low carb, where would you think their BG level would be?

    It depends on a host of things. But I would assume it would be in the 3.5-4 mmol/l range.

  9. Hi Doc,
    Was wondering how your granddaughter does on the LC kids diet? Any results you have seen beyond being a normal healthy child?

    Not really. She’s just a normal, healthy, active kid.

  10. Ah, what would you say is a kid version of low carb?
    For my almost 2 yr old, I have tried to be protein & veggie focused, with milk, yogurt and peanut butter (occasionally on bread), using fruit for snacks instead of those carby packaged snacks everyone seems to have. However, I don’t prevent others (esp. dad and grandparents) from giving her sweet treats or the french fries/tortilla chips/rice that always happen in restaurants and I’m wary of sparking a rebellion later. At least thanks to you I don’t have the apparently rising problem of parents who are stunting their kids’ growth because they’ve been scared out of giving them fat.

    As for the addictiveness…yeah. I could write a whole blog post on it myself, sadly.

    All of our grandkids are meat eaters. They fill in around the meat with vegetables and a little fruit. Their parents avoid – as much as possible – giving them cookies, candy, ice cream, potatoes, rice, etc. but aren’t too zealous about what they get at school and at friend’s houses. They try to control at home what they can and figure they’re way ahead of most.

  11. Sir i know Senor C is a mucker of yours but do you agree with him on the below.

    ref carbs cancer and timely.I have a pal recently diagnozed with pancreatic cancer.I sent all i have of ketones and cancer cells growth, the Warburg hypothesis, Seyfrieds work etc.She’s talking surgery which at best doesnt seem to prolong life at all from little readings these past weeks.She says that in a month or two she will give up her carby starchy diet and engage ketones to see if owt is done.
    Now i work with chronic crack addicts and all the time, just like carbs, they say the same thing.
    read once Bill W took LSD, had his trip had seen the cosmic connection and wrote in diary thus kept…..4.55 i see all i no longer need tobacco(he died of emphesyma as i recall even thought i canny spell it !) at 5.05 hsi diary read something like ‘asked assistant for a smoke’ !
    Biology is all eh esp things that give us that slight lift.
    One thing i’ve noticed..if i suffuse myself with fat esp sat fat i will not be tempted but when i forget to eat thus then i cave or am tempted with el carbs… Jonah Falcon in a room full of wild succulent femmes..i cannot resist !

    Among Eskimos, age related bone loss starts earlier in life and is more pronounced than it is among Westerners due to the combination of an almost exclusively animal diet and very low calcium intake in the Eskimo diet.

    It’s also important to mention that some studies have shown that hypertension could also result from a disturbance in the acid-base balance. Further evidence of this link comes from the fact that chloride seems to be a major determinant of the diet’s net acid load6, and from the fact that old studies show that chloride raised blood pressure to a significantly higher level than did sodium7.

    Normal adult humans eating the typical Western diet, whose metabolism yields more acids (sulphuric acid from meat, fish, eggs, dairy and cereal grains) than base (bicarbonate from fruits and vegetables), have chronic, low-grade metabolic acidosis. This is aggravated by the normal age-related decline in overall renal function.

    To correct this low-grade metabolic acidosis, focus on eating a high amount of fruits and vegetables, and lower consumption of grains, hard cheese, and chloride. This will bring the body back into acid/base balance, which naturally brings it back into calcium balance, and has numerous other health benefits. Remember, the goal is to avoid a net acid load on your kidneys.

    References are available at

    I agree with him to an extent about the acid-base disturbances. But, I’m not sure that it is as bad as he makes it out to be. This is another one of those areas in which he and I have minor disagreements.

  12. yes, this stuff is addictive.
    i recently found a recipe for a cake called pischinger and I am fantasying about what could be a replacement for wafer (maybe some hints from commenters?) (other than wafer, the cake is a pretty low carb dish)

    but to the point – I’d like to know what happened to those guys who chose carbs over ketogenic therapy – if they survived then we can say of course that carbs are addictive but can’t claim that LC can mitigate cancer?

    I agree, but I don’t know what happened. Maybe I’ll drop a line to the researchers and find out.

  13. Have you seen this:

    The most important consideration is avoiding cancer in the first place. Consuming much polyunsaturated vegetable oils have been shown repeatedly to increase cancer rates, sometimes even 4-5 times above normal levels. The metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids yields malondialdehyde for one, in addition to pentane and ethane. All of such compounds are poisonous to any living tissue and will readily inflame whatever they come into contact with:


    I had seen the papers, but not the blog post. I agree about the vegetable oils. I avoid them like death, thus the lard in the fondant.

  14. Hi Dr Eades! I have had easier time quiting smoking after 15 years then cutting off sweets completely. I am a very emotional person, very hyper and very unrestful. Sometimes my HR would go up to 160 just sitting down after a heated debate wiht my Ex-girlfriend. I used cigarettes to calm me down and so I did carbs such as ice cream, candy and pizza. I quit smoking a year and half ago and haven’t had a cigarette since, although have had many opportunities, such as friends weddings, parties and such. But I still havent been able to completely cut off sweets. Even though I am on a low carb lifestyle for 4 month now and doing great, I still use sugar free stuff, and lots of it. I am so addicted to sugar free Russel Stove chocolate covered almonds that I buy two packages every single day. I cant stay away from them, they are just that good. I was able to stave off 500 chemicals or so in cigarettes , but cant stay away from 5 or so chemicaLs in sweet chocolate covered nuts. I believe it goes back to childhood and comfort food. As young kids we are preconditioned by our grannies to sweets as way to feel better about ourselves. I come from jewish family, but am sure a lot of people can share my experience. So as adults our brains still treat sweets as comfort and calming agents, sort of subconscious message to the brain that everything is ok. Why else would we crave something sweet after full course dinner? Cant be physiological. Dr Eades I have recently read an article that completely discredits splenda, citing that splenda causes obesity by activating some brain chemicals and raising insulin. Are you aware of any such studies? I know you are fond of splenda. I love cheesecakes, do you think using stevia for example is better then using splenda?

    First, you need to start taking some good sized doses of magnesium to get over your cravings. I would start with as much as you can tolerate without diarrhea. Take it at bedtime. It should help the cravings a lot.

    All things being equal, I would prefer stevia over Splenda. But Splenda has a much better taste than stevia and is much easier to cook with, so all things aren’t equal. I’ve written about Splenda (sucralose) in a number of posts. Search those words in the search function if you’re interested to see my take a little better explained.

  15. Dr Eades, I have a private question for you. Unfortunately I cant contact you so I have to use a public forum. I work at Suny Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, I am sure you are familiar with our instituition. I am a night manager at the Suny Downstate Student Center. I have had a contact with Dr Feinman, but unfortunately am not able to send him emails through school server. It is hard to find him on campus since he works part time now. I went to biochemistry department but he is only there once a week. Our campus is hosting an open forum on obesity epidemic and what to do about it? We will have a lot of prominent speakers, including first lady of NY state. There will be lots of doctors and nutritionists who sort of specializing in weight loss. I and my department helping organize this event. I spoke with a coordinator of this event today and founf out there will be none of the speakers who promote low carb approach. It wont even be mentioned, I guess. Can you contact Dr Feinman and find out if he can participate in this forum? It is an open and free even for all Downstate employees. I will be there to ask questions from the pannel of doctors. I am willing to go an extra mile to share my story and promote low carb way of living. I just think it is an excellent oppurtunity for low carb prominent supporters to represent. I know Dr Feinman is a busy man, but he would definitely be a wonderful addition. Thanks!

    I’ll pass the message along.

  16. I wonder if having a big glucose-hogging tumor would cause a patient to crave sweets more than he or she naturally would.

    I don’t know, but I doubt it. Most people with advanced tumors aren’t much hungry for anything.

  17. Mike:

    Really appreciating your stepped-up posting the last week or so. Good stuff all around. Always enjoy finding a new post on the blog.

    Regarding this cancer-glucose thing. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this and it all seems to make sense. Except for one thing. This homeostasis idea.

    I’m guessing that even if you maintained a blood glucose 90 or so, a tumor, a glucose-dependent neoplasm– would simply suck glucose out of circulation as needed. And the body, looking to preserve homeostasis, would simply replace the glucose through gluconeogenesis or from the 40-50 grams of dietary carbs.

    Unless you go dangerously hypoglycemic, I’m having trouble seeing how you’d starve a tumor by simply eating low-carb.

    If you were low-carbing, either the tumor would suck SO much glucose out of circulation, you’d go hypo. . . or homeostatic mechanisms would simply replace the glucose utilized by the tumor.

    But then, maybe I’m overthinking this.

    Hi Walt–

    No, I don’t think you’re overthinking. It’s a complex topic, requiring more time than I’ve got for a comment answer. You can get the idea of how it works from this paper.



  18. “kid’s version of the low-carb diet”

    Dr. Eades,
    Mark Sisson has a few posts on this. Would appreciate your thoughts on this as well.

    I figure that with kids if you can keep them low-carbing at home, you’re way ahead of the game. And even then it’s tough. Basically we kept all junk out of the house. We fed our kids meat and colorful vegetables and gave them anything to drink except soft drinks. Our granddaughter loves sparkling water, so he parents give her that with a little fruit juice in it. If you can just get kids to follow a semi-low-carb diet at home, they will do okay.

  19. Hello Dr. Eades,

    we have recognized this small gynecological study here in Germany some time ago. I think that Ed Parsons and Methuselah are right, as you are with your addiction-statement.

    The ladies who are performing this study are very very careful when communicating it to the patients and are not at all followers or believers in the low carb / ketogenic way of eating/life. They are even quite skeptical about the possible success-rates of this kind of treatment, as they point out that the Warburg-thesis does not at all apply to the broad majority of cancers.

    Being told this: “You have to reduce carbs to a ketosis inducing level, but we already know, that there are some cancers, that are not responding to this, and your chances are that your cancer *might* grow slowlier as it would when continuing a conventional way of eating”, for me sounds a bit like what we’ve heard about those folks following an energy restricted diet for prolonging their lifespan – a longer, but miserable life in an emaciated state and always hungry (low carb does of course not lead to emaciation etc., but having to give up carbs will surely sound like suffering and living miserable last weeks for many of the patients). Facing this sort of chances and being sent home to die, I do fully understand, that the “normal” patient will not turn to be an enthusiastic fan of low carb dieting and compliance will drop severely when the first symptoms of carb-withdrawel will occur.

    By the way – there is also a bad aftertaste concerning this study: It is co-initiated by a company that sells special kinds of “good oils”, which are used as an important part of the nutritional regimen. This commercial side effect is something not nearly as common in German studies (which are performed in an “independent” way by universities) as it might be in the US…

    Cheers, guzolany

    Thanks for the inside story on the study.

    It does seem strange to me, though, that these people could endure surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy – all of which are miserable – in an effort to treat their cancer, but caved in the face of carb removal.



  20. One must wonder why it’s not standard procedure to include carb abstinence in current cancer therapy. It seems absurd to administer both the poison and the antidote to a patient that’s being treated for cancer. The poison is the standard diet that adheres to national nutritional guidelines (i.e. high carb low fat). The antidote is whatever treatment is available.

    A while back I was interested in cancer. I found out about one drug that cuts off the fuel supply to cancerous cells. It’s called hydrazine sulphate. Now I’m not so interested in cancer anymore since I learned how cancerous cells feed and how obviously simple it is to starve those cells. I figured if that drug kills cancer cells by starving them, why continue to feed those cells glucose? Indeed, why feed glucose to a cancer patient regardless of the therapy.

    I certainly wouldn’t feed them glucose.

  21. Hi Michael,

    So what you’re saying is that transformed cells can only use glycolysis, where as normal cells can use glycolosis, plus fatty acid metabolism etc? In other words — normal cells use the glycolytic pathway given the presence of glucose too, obviously; but they don’t in the main *need* glucose. Am I right here or not?

    One other thing — I’m reading your Slow Burn book and I wondered do you have a list of references on this site for the studies quoted in the book, but not referenced? That would be most useful thanks.

    Thank you again for a fascinating blog post. You have the best blog on the net, in my opinion!


    Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Here is a paper discussing the nuts and bolts of how this cancer therapy works. It’s specific to brain cancers, but the idea is pretty much the same in other cancers as well.

    Normal cells use glucose if available, but can also use fat and ketones. Some cells can use glucose only, while others can use ketones in place of glucose. It’s a complicated situation that I posted on earlier.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have a list of references up for the Slow Burn book. We probably should. I’ll add it to my to-do list.



  22. Hi Doc,
    It doesn’t surprise me that some people, even in circumstances like this cancer study, just give in to the cravings even if they know that their short term behavior is, in the long term, killing them. Witness the cirrhotic drunk, or the smokers with emphysema. Intellectual knowledge is often simply not equal to the intense cravings of a physical addiction when you are deep in it.

    And I completely agree that carbs are addictive. I feel the effects, and the cravings. I can tell when my blood sugar spikes and my insulin levels compensate. And for the most part, my willpower can overcome the cravings because I know what damage those carbs are doing to my health.

    My question is why? What evolutionary process bred this into us? More to the point, how do I explain to those non-enlightened souls that still believe the low fat dogma that their desire for sweets is a bad thing? Honestly, I have this argument with my wife routinely, where I try to argue the paleolithic hunter gatherer evolution angles and she insists that the fact that sugar tastes so good to us is evidence that it is good for us (or at least not detrimental).

    I’ve had a lot of success keeping my health markers and weight in ‘ideal’ ranges with low carb living over the years, much to the chagrin of my wife, doctor, and several friends who are sure I’m killing myself with all the fat I eat, if they could only figure out how.

    I just wish I had a relatively simple and concise answer for the evolutionary development of the carb cravings. I’ve read all your books a couple times over, along with keeping up with other literature on the web. Did I just miss the answer?

    We’ve written some about it in the PPLP. I imagine it works through the addiction centers of the brain just as cocaine, nicotine and other addictive drugs do. It always annoys me when people remark that it must be good for us since it tastes so good. Do these people think that cocaine is good for us because it creates such a pleasurable sensation? How about meth? Same there? Or nicotine? Is that good for us, too, because it’s so enjoyable to those addicted? We’ve got sweet receptors (allowing us to taste sweets) because they allowed us to survive. A cow will starve to death in a roomful of hot dogs. A cat will starve to death surrounded by mashed potatoes. But both of these animals can live on foods they won’t eat normally if they are fooled. Cows are (or were) fed animal protein disguised as cow food (which is allegedly why they got mad cow disease) and cats can live (for awhile) on cat food made from non-meat sources. If you take a cat and give it a sweet receptor, it has a survival advantage over cats that don’t have such receptors because it will be able to find food it will eat if no meat is available. The other cats without the receptors won’t, so the cat with the receptor will be more likely to survive and pass along its genes. I suspect that something similar happened with humans. Those with the most sweet receptors survived and bred, passing along their genes. Sweet receptors – just like insulin receptors – can become blunted, requiring ever more sweet to stimulate them, driving people to eat more and more sugar to get the same level of satisfaction they previously got with less sugar. And it works the opposite way, too. Avoiding sugar and other intensely sweet foods lets the receptors become more sensitive, which is why foods not normally thought of as sweet – say, green beans – taste kind of sweet after a period of sugar deprivation.

  23. Slightly off topic (I bet you hate that intro) . . . what would cause an elevated glucose level (127) in a low-carber who rarely consumes more than 50g of carb per day and is maintaining a weight she likes (134 lb — ht: 5’7″ — age: 62) ?

    Fabulous blog, by the way. I cheer you on from the sidelines on a regular basis.

    It’s difficult to say what causes an elevated glucose under the circumstances you describe without a lot more information. You could be making more glucose or producing less insulin or a combination. You could have a little insulin resistance in your liver cells or any number of other underlying conditions, so it’s really impossible to make a call without a workup.

  24. One more thing I thought I’d add here is that being on a low-carb diet, as I currenty am, my sensation of hunger feels very different than before. When I am hungry I don’t crave food as much. I wonder how many other low-carbers experience this too?

    Thanks again Michael,


  25. I don’t doubt that the people involved signed countless documents and were not dragooned into participating. But imagine when they started telling friends and family about it. “You’re doing what?!? That can’t be good for you!” or “Here, have a little piece. That can’t hurt.”

    The power of common opinion should not be taken lightly. In the isolation of the doctor’s office or hospital, the explanations sound logical. Avoid glucose/carbs/sweets, and your cancer will not get worse and might even get better. Then the patient goes out into the world, where there is abundant advertising, clever marketing, endless store shelves laden with forbidden items, friends who say they’ve never heard of such a thing, magazine articles calling for “balanced” eating, anti-fat or anti-meat bandwagoning, parties with absolutely nothing the person should eat, and possibly even a “second opinion” from a doctor who thinks it’s too wacky to work.

    I’m not battling cancer, just trying to maintain a low-carb lifestyle, and I have a hard enough time fighting all of the above. I agree with your post, because I know full well how addictive carbs are. Once you start sliding back into carb consumption, it’s difficult to stop. But I’d bet that for a portion of those who dropped out, some of the other influences I listed were involved, possibly at a level the patient wasn’t even aware of.

    I’m sure you’re right

  26. it really works my nerves that we live in a country where people claim addiction to anything and everything (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex, shopping, porn, credit card spending, gambling etc etc etc) and are usually met with some amount of empathy and compassion. but no one wants to admit that sugar is as addictive (or more so) than any of the above. i’ve begun to believe its because everyone in this country is so hooked into sugar themselves they just can’t see it. whenever i’m tempted to have “just a tiny taste” i always repeat that classic bit from “the lost weekend” when the bartender says to ray milland “one’s too many and a hundred’s not enough”. stops me every time.

    and a dear friend of mine is a breast cancer survivor…what sage advice on diet during this remission did her very expensive doctors give her? “eat whatever makes you feel happy”. good lord, i could just choke them…

    “One’s too many and a hundred’s not enough.” What a great line.

  27. That sure puts the addiction and the strength of the carb addiction into perspective. Yikes! People will choose carbs over life itself; now who can deny that those cravings are real and something to be avoided in the first place if possible, and what better way than with low-carbing. I myself am not a purist 100% of the time, so I have felt those cravings on short vacations from low-carbing. They are indeed strong, but my passion for low-carbing is always there and I return happily to it each time, because I feel much better off the sugar/white flour products and detest weight gain that often comes with the carb indulgences. I know that it is a slippery slope, so I don’t allow myself to deviate for long. However, it would seem some people cannot resist the drive and the cravings and the temptations, and in those cases it would definitely seem it is much more than a case of simple will power at play.

  28. If polyunsaturated oils are so bad — why are nuts and oily fish — both high in polyunsaturated oils ok? I love dry roasted nuts but tend to eat way too many of them. They are my “potato chips”. I can easily put down a pound of mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, filberts,pistachios, walnuts) while my husband watches in horror… it’s a nut addiction.

    There are a number of different polyunsaturated oils divided into two main categories – omega-6 and omega-3. The polyunsaturated olls in fish are mainly of the omega-3 variety, which are pretty good for us and of which we usually don’t get enough. Nuts contain a lot of different polyunsaturated fats, but they are in an appropriate ration and it’s tough to get a whole lot even if eating a lot of nuts. And the fats are stabilized because they’re in the nut surrounded by antioxidants. Vegetable oils are a different story. They are consumed in much greater quantity, especially the omega-6 kinds, and are often altered during the extraction process.

  29. Dr Mike,

    “Carbohydrates are additive” in part because gut bacteria crave them.

    Peter of the Hyperlipid blog ( makes a case for our gut bacteria somewhat controlling our hunger (by indirectly controlling our metabolism when they, the bacteria, are hungry) and controlling our food choices, specifically a craving for sweets which, in an ancient world, would have gotten the gut bacteria the fermentable carbohydrates they need.

    It’s the biochemistry behind one of the reasons that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet reduces hunger and craving for sweets (carbohydrates).

    To limit gut bacteria he suggests limiting fermentable carbohydrates.

    Philip Thackray

    Limiting the production of gas from the gut bacteria also reduces the incidence of GERD.

  30. Whats your opinion about erythritol?

    As a sugar alcohol goes, it’s pretty good. Doesn’t seem to increase blood sugar as much as some of the others, which probably means it’s not absorbed as well. Which is strange because it usually causes the least GI distress as compared to the rest. And it has a fairly clean taste – at least to me.

  31. The problem with most of the sugar free chocolate on the market isn’t the Splenda in it, it’s the maltitol. The stuff is every bit as addictive as sugar, maybe more, it can even raise blood sugar like sugar does in a lot of people but it may take longer, even raising FBG the next day. Maltitol is evil. The Chocoperfection, sweetened with erythritol and oligofructose, bars do not contain it so you may find it easier to resist that.

  32. We say drugs are addictive because they activate reward pathways associated with eating carbs. Unless you are in ketosis, you are constantly activating those pathways but we don’t call it addiction-we call it “eating” and in some cases “healthy eating” although it is only healthy if there’s little in the way of sugar to burn out your blood vessels and you’re maintaining energy balance or possibly a calorie deficit. You don’t have to do drugs or shop or gamble to live but you do actually have to eat which is why the whole reward pathway exists-if we didn’t have it we wouldn’t hunt, gather, go to the grocery store etc…and we’d die pretty fast.

    Ketosis exists so people wouldn’t kill themselves and each other living a pastoral lifestyle or dealing with short term famine situations. So few Westerners consciously experience ketosis (probably many experience it a bit when they’re asleep) they have no idea that its painless once you’re in it and that once you’re in it you don’t necessarily want to be out of it unless your popped out by some sugar or carb laden sweet thing at which point you’re off to the races. Even sweet taste of sacharin causes dopamine release (the same neurotransmitter that is activated by cocaine and that is facilitated by nicotine.

    People say things like “I could never give up bread” because they never have gone without bread. They think they would literally be hungry all the time if they consumed a diet that cut out 80% of what they regularly eat. You have to make it plain that they do substitute a portion of the carbs with a bit more protein and alot more fat but that’s fine. If you’re in ketosis hunger is much less of an issue since you literally live off your own reserves with the exception of the meat and fat you consume but that’s very hard to get someone to believe until they’ve made it in. I even forget when I’m out how easy it is and how good I feel once I’m in. Bizarrely I recently read that ketosis activates the same catecholamines, probably more that drugs and carbs activate which would explain how appetite gets suppressed so well by a ketogenic diet.

    Well put!

  33. Dusty you said:
    “I’ve had a lot of success keeping my health markers and weight in ‘ideal’ ranges with low carb living over the years, much to the chagrin of my wife, doctor, and several friends who are sure I’m killing myself with all the fat I eat, if they could only figure out how.”

    Geez that pisses me off! They can see that low carb is doing you good but they just don’t want to believe it!! What is their health status like?

  34. This post reminded me of some thoughts I had today while walking around a big food and fun event downtown (Fall for Greenville – in SC). I couldn’t help but look at some of the more overweight people walking around and wondering how much they were obsessing in their minds over the booths with the pumpkin icecream, cheesecake, creme brulee, etc because I remembered last year at this same event when I was 20 lbs. heavier and not low carbing at the time and all I could think about was how much I wanted this sweet tasty thing or that sweet tasty thing and this year was completely different. Today I was thinking about how good the frango at the Brazilian stand might be or the chicken satay sticks at one of the Asian booths. Upon having this realization I felt freedom. It’s wonderful not to obsess about sweets, so much so that I don’t think I’ll care enough to have any cake on my birthday next week. Anyone who knows me would find that short of miraculous.

  35. Dr. Mike,

    I know you’ve mentioned Michael Pollan before (“An Omnivore’s Dilemma”). I’m reading his book “The Botany of Desire”. Really interesting that he claims that sweets are one of the four basic human desires. I was astounded to learn that in the American frontier a couple hundred years ago, the taste of something sweet was very rare. Just the taste of an apple was a big thrill back then.

    He also has a funny part about feeding his one year old son his first birthday cake, his first sweet thing. The kid just wanted more more more!! The baby’s eyes lit up, like let’s just eat cake and forget about the other details.

    Hmm. Our grandkids had just the opposite reaction. They all turned up their noses at their first birthday cake. The first grandkid had never had sugar prior to his birthday. He wanted nothing to do with his cake. He’s loves it now, when he can get it. But he didn’t like it the first time.

  36. Dr Mike I just read a blog on Jimmy Moore’s website about his brother Kevin dying at the age of 40 from a heart disease. I am sure you are familiar with JImmy Moore, I heard you giving an interview on his podcast show. Thanks to Jimmy Moore I discovered many other people including yourself. I just cant grasp the notion that his brother has been dying slowly and there is nothing modern medicine can do. Jimmy just put a new blog about his brother being in coma because his defibrillator went off and doctors had to shock his heart numerous time and finally put him in coma. Why isnt it possible to do bypass on him if all his coronary vessels are clogged? Cant they use some other arteries? And was his condition caused by years of obesity and carb overindulgence? There are millions of people who do just same diet and live much longer. Is it possible to kill the heart by wrong diet that early or there has to be some genetic predisposition? I just cant fathom the idea that there is nothing that doctors cant do? Its so sad!

    It’s difficult to comment on this sad situation from a medical perspective without having a lot more information. Diffuse coronary artery disease is a difficult disease to treat. When blockage is in the larger arteries, they can be bypassed, which isn’t the case if the disease is throughout. Once the heart muscle has been damaged by a series of infarcts (which is what I’m assuming happened here based on the history I extracted from Jimmy’s blog post), it can’t pump properly. Why? Because healthy heart tissue has been replaced by scar tissue. MD’s father died from this exact condition at age 58. It was sad to see him go at his age, and it’s really a sad, sad situation to see it in someone as young as Jimmy’s brother.

  37. Hi Dr Eades – this is not a comment for posting – I just wanted to let you know that the link in your Alternative Sweetener Encyclopedia post from April 2007 doesn’t work.

    I also wanted to let you know that I am working on a similar project to create a Definitive Guide to sweeteners, artificial and otherwise, to act as a one-stop shop for people wanting to get the skinny on any kind of sweetener.

    I have just posted the first draft here:

    Definitive Guide to Sugar, Sugars and Sweeteners

    It lists all the names and alternative names along with brief descriptions of their uses and health issues and giving an overview of some of the categorisations that can be confusing (e.g. ‘sugar’ vs ‘sugars’, ‘nutrititive’ vs ‘non-nutritive’, ‘artificial’ vs ‘natural’ etc)

    The idea is to evolve and refine the guide via moderated user suggestions for improvement – kind of like a WIKI. I also intend to follow up with detailed posts about individual sweeteners, linked to from the main list, where I cite references (probably quite a few thanks to your Life Plan book, which I am devouring at the moment.)

    I’ve also used some nice web technologies to make the list easy to navigate.

    Would love to get your opinion if you have time to check it out.

    The link is fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

    I took a look at your post. Nice job! Very thorough. It will be a valuable tool. Thanks for the link.

  38. Hi Dr. Eades,

    I think it would be interesting to find out more about addictions. What makes people more or less disciplined? I get addicted very easily. Addictions disgust me, so I get out of them very easily. Carbs have alway been extremely addicting to me; as someone else said: “One’s too many, hundred’s not enough”. I haven’t eaten any sweets/junks in years (and I’m 22). I also remember when eliminating wheat many years ago, I craved it enormously. I’ve also tried dairy elimination a few times, and whenever I were more than a few days without dairy, I stopped craving it. When coming back to it, it doesn’t even taste the same! The reason I stick with dairy is because it is such a practical and cheap high fat/protein food (high-fat yogurt, cheese and butter). The same addiction feeling comes with alcohol, so I pratically never drink any.

    I know that when fighting an addiction, eventually, for me, the craving completely goes away in a short while. It is the same for others? I can enjoy the smell of chocolate without craving any. I’m thinking that what make someone going back to smoking after years of abstinence has nothing to do with physiological craving. The same goes with carbs.

    Why is it that most people have so little willpower? I think it has to do with cognitive dissonance. It feels good, therefore it is good. That statement stands deeper in the cognitive brain than most logical facts. Avoiding carbs is as simple as not eating food with carbs. Of course, most people don’t understand that they need to eat enough fat and hence never adapt to ketosis. I’m disgressing a lot in this comment and I don’t really know where I’m going so I’ll stop!

    I think it would be great if you or someone else put together a bibliography of all the papers referenced on your blog. Even better, a bibliography of all papers in favor of low-carbing. Is that in an incoming book?

    I’m actually in the process of assembling all the low-carb papers I have into a software program that will print them all in citation form. It’s a real nightmare to print citations by hand, and there are always ones that end up being incorrect. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to track down citations that were misprinted, so I don’t want to do that to anyone else. When I do get them assembled, I’ll post them as a separate part of the website.

  39. Smile – cute reactions of the kids to birthday cake for the first time!

    I’ll post a photo of the cake soon. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the kids’ reactions to the cake because we had to leave the party early to catch a flight to Seattle, where we are now and will be for a few days. I hope the parents got some photos. If so, I’ll post them along with the cake photo. Reports I got via text message were that the cake was a real hit with adults and children alike. Thank God I wasn’t there to go face down in it publicly. :-)

  40. Mike, I remember a while back (maybe 2 yrs ago?), when I wrote to you about a friend of ours that had cancer and asked if you’ve ever treated anyone with cancer during your years of practice. I remember we speculated then that if anything, a restricted carb diet would do more benefit than harm to my friend. When I searched on the diets that are ‘recommended’ for cancer patients I found, of course, that a low-fat diet was always mentioned. I wish this study had been done earlier… it’s hard to approach a friend after diagnosed with cancer and just say, without having other evidence, ‘hey this could help you…’

    Anyway, right now I’m teaching about metabolism and this kind of study and background information is just the right stuff to mention as we discuss how energy is made inside cells. Though I teach more about bacteria than eukaryotic cells, the discussion still has a lot of merit.

    One the issue of carb-addiction, I guess I’m not sold to the idea that carbs per se are addictive. I’ve seen studies, however, where some effects have been seen in brain cells when exposed to sugar and the recognized pattern of physiological changes that qualify as addiction can be seen, but not all of them. I can’t help but think of what you wrote in one of your books about the different theories out there on how civilization came to be. I distinctively recall the theory of an Australian group that put forth the theory of excitotoxins as a possible driving force to the beginning of civilization. After you mentioned that in PPLP, I had to find that article, which was quite interesting. According to that, bioactive peptides found in grains, which have been shown to affect brain cells in the same way as many addictive drugs do, and as grain products became more available and more edible, modern humans that came in contact with wild grains may have been literally ‘hooked’ over time by the increasing availability of grain-derived bioactive peptides. At the top of the list of the sources of bioactive peptides is wheat, barley, and rye… milk also shows but down the list and meat even lower in that list of foods that can produce bioactive peptides.

    This leads me to think that carb-addiction may not be because of carbs per se but foods that contain grain products, which happen to also be present in carb-laden foods. So, in case of us being addicted to the sugars in cookies, chances are that we’ve become addicted to the bioactive peptides that are released after incomplete digestion of the proteins in the wheat flour used to make those cookies. Maybe that’s why we don’t see a lot of people walking around with emptying packets of sugar from time to time, but binging on stuff that is made with sugar and flour.

    You may have come across studies that actually identify carbohydrate molecules (glucose or other saccharides) that have been shown to directly effect cells in the same way as addictive drugs do (or even excitotoxins). If you find a bit of time in your busy life, I for one would love to read your take on those studies.

    Hey Gabe–

    Good points all. I need to reread that study. If you have it at hand and wouldn’t mind, could you send it my way so I don’t have to dig it out of one of my many boxes of old studies. Thanks.

    I do think it is probably the bioactive peptides in grain that are problematic, but there is still the issue of the fat-carb combo. Although people don’t really sit and eat sugar out of the sugar bowl, they do love the fat-sugar combination. I don’t know what it is about it that’s so attractive, but it is. The fondant that MD made was sugar and fat (powdered sugar, Karo syrup and organic lard) and it exerted a powerful pull on me after I had tasted just a little bit.



  41. Dr Mike thanks for sharing your thoughts about Jimmy brother ordeal and your wife’s dad. I still dont understand how the heart could completely get stiff and nonfunctional at that young age. As Jimmy contends his brother was obese all of his life, loading up on all the wrong carb even after 3 heart attacks he suffered. Jimmy seems to cling to the notion it was all lifestyle and diet related. I have hard time believing that a diet alone, however carb loading or not could have caused such a severe and damaging affect by the age of 40. My question to you is it possible? I know it is hard to speculate not knowing the medical history, but in general is it possible in theory to damage the coronary artery that severe by that young age? Or there has to be some genetic factors. I once had a biology professor in school and all his malwe relatives died by the age of 50 from some kind of CHF . He said it was genetic. So he started weight lifting and lifted all his life. He still had a heart attack by the age 65 but hinted that by lifting heavy weights he was able to create extra small vessels supplying blood to his heart to accommodate an additional demand for blood supply. He contended that thanks to heavy lifting he was able to beat the odds by 10 years or so. He is still alive at the age of 70 but suffered another heart attack. So knowing as much as you know about diets and health what is your take on diet alone being able to kill a heart without some genetic misfortunes? Is it really possible? What about MD father? Do you think there was some family history there and genetic link? I just cant fathom the thought of diet alone causing such severe arterial diffues disease! I could understand diet high in sugar killing beta cells or causing other ailments, but diffuse arterial disease with 99 percent of all arteries blocked at age 39? I could see Bill Clinton having it at age 60, but he was indulging on a diet of french fries and burgers, plus all that job stress and all that sex didn’t exactly help either. Sorry for going on and on and on! But thanks, and i really want you to expand a little more on this. I appreciate your valuable and golden opinion. Not that I take anyone advise as a gospel, but I have an enormous amount of respect for you and what you do!

    Yes, it’s possible. Jimmy’s brother is proof. Some people are able to eat large quantities of food and not gain much weight – others aren’t so lucky. Some can eat a horrible diet and never get heart disease – others aren’t so lucky. Obesity and heart disease are multifactorial diseases, meaning they have many causes including genetics.

  42. I think I remember reading somewhere that 80% of consumed erythritol comes out unchanged in your urine, which would explain why it causes less GI problems. The GI problems caused by most sugar alcohols are from their digestion by bacteria in the gut. David Mendosa’s page on sugar alcohols says erythritol has 0.2 cal/g and a glycemic index of 0.

  43. As a recovering “carboholic”, I truly understand the addictive nature of carbs. Only fear of my life over my recent decline in health is the thing that has turned me from my addictive nature. Thanks to Drs. Eades for their very informative books of “Protein Power”. It has taught me more about the human conditions created from poor diet information and a necessity for a dietary change than the 35 years of so-called diet experts and Medical Doctors I have suffered through.

    Thanks for the kind words about the book. I’m glad you found it helpful.

  44. I think sometimes we lump all carbs into on pot and call them addictive. If MD had been laying boiled potatoes out on the counter and you had sneaked a bite, I would bet that you would not have been obsessing about eating more of them. Yet their glycemic index, etc. would put them squarely on the low-carber’s black list.

    Carbs and fat is the magic combination? Try a “fondant” made from lard and potato starch. Wouldn’t make you come back for more.

    So, as many point out, sweetness is perhaps the main trigger of an addiction for some. For others, such as me, it is anything made with grain, the more processed the more attractive. But it I am eating some carbs after a heavy weight workout to replenish muscle glycogen, I don’t find fruit or even a baked potato to be a trigger. For myself, I know better than to go for the bowl of pasta, etc.

    Many of our ancestors from tropical regions regularly ate starchy tubers and even a lot of fruit in many seasons and yet did not suffer from the “diseases of civilization.” If you want to point to any one thing that distinguishes these cultures from other (diseased) carb eaters, it is grain and refined sugar consumption.

    Of course, I know your position on grain has been stated and obviously I agree with it. I just wanted to point out that a distinction regarding the addictive capacity of carbs may not be based upon their impact on insulin alone. This, of course, is beside the point made about the anti-cancer effects.

    Thanks for the continuous stream of thought-provoking articles. I check the blog every day.

  45. A starting list of citations for carbs and addiction can be found at DesMaisons’ Radiant Recovery website. She focuses on “addictive nutrition” – nutrition to support addiction recovery, and she is working from a hypothesis that sugar and flour can be addictive, while acknowledging the science has not all been done yet.

  46. Regarding the combination of carbs with fat, do you think there is a possibility that these combinations are an intuitive way to limit to quick rise in blood sugar after ingesting carbs? Aren’t fats supposed to slow down how long it takes for food to clear the stomach? So maybe traditional combination such as bread and butter, baked potato with sour cream, fruit and cheese, peanut butter and crackers, etc. are a way to blunt the rapid conversion to glucose that would take place sans the accompanying fat? Does this “no scientific training” guess have any merit?

    Could be. Who knows? It’s as good a guess as anyone’s.



  47. I absolutely agree on the addictive power of carbs. The first few days after starting to low carb for the first time, I was alarmed to find myself fantasizing about running to the pantry and upending a bottle of Mrs.Butterworth’s into my mouth.

    The good news is that after a week it tends to mellow (as you know) but temptation does hit and lord help me when it does.

    another note…

    The next time you are aching for a grownup dessert that is a little more low-carb friendly (hell, still dessert, but at least not too deadly) try Rose Levy Bernbaum’s Chocolate Oblivion Torte. (No flour, no added sugar–lots of eggs, dark chocolate and butter and one of the best you will ever eat.)

    When my own kids choose a birthday cake, they usually prefer a white chocolate/lemon cream cheese frosting which, again, more reasonable even while still being sweet and it is light and very easy to work with. recipe here:

  48. I just wanted to make a comment about the potatoes thing. Even though I’ve been pretty much off LC until a few months ago, I’d completely lost any interest in anything potato, regardless of how it is processed or what is added to it, about a year and a half ago. Before that, however, I could down several pounds of them in a day.

    An older friend and I, as teenagers, spent one night driving between various McDonald’s “restaurants”, ordering as many fries as we could afford. We then proceeded to dump them in a massive pile and devour them as fast as we could. In addition to my then regular fry consumption – I had been raised on McDonald’s as a staple food since about 9 years old, thanks to my parents having all of the cooking (not baking – we had a lot of homemade baked goods – honest, savory cooking with meat) skills of a particularly earnest pet rock.

    At some point, maybe three years after that, I became obsessed with mashed potatoes (the real thing, boiled and mashed by hand), and would eat about 5 pounds a day, sometimes going at them even before adding the dairy.

    This may not mean a lot, though, because I have been known for some very strange feeding habits. Like eating margarine out of the tub, sticks of butter, the same two frozen Indian dinners for three months straight, at some point followed by nothing but toast with cream cheese and blueberry jelly (real jelly, sucrose-sweetened, local stuff) for another three months…you get the point.

    I also somehow managed to unintentionally calorie/fat restrict myself so much during my first go-around with LC that my metabolism completely shut down. Wouldn’t you know that your hair falling out, wearing heavy jackets in July, losing strength, and gaining weight means you need to eat more? Perfectly normal TSH, too. The occasionally-taken food diary put my calorie intake at about 1,400 kcal/day, with an average of about 200g protein. Not good for a 16 year old of almost any size.

    I guess I really don’t have any point to this rambling other than fat is good, eat it, calories aren’t evil, eat them, protein is wonderful and sacred, eat it, and pears are tasty but carby. In addition under no – and I mean NO – circumstances should you come home and boil chicken and CRUCIFEROUSVEGETABLE and add nothing but salt for three months after workouts and convince yourself you’re too tired to eat anything else for the day.

    You just might lose it and end up eating nothing but Hormel pepperoni and Breyer’s ice cream for…3 months.

    Thanks for the interesting history.

  49. As someone who has been addicted to cigarettes for a few years (stoopid college kid behavior!), and who’s currently quite addicted to caffeine (happily so, I love coffee), I gotta say I don’t believe carb addiction is in the same category. Not for me anyway. Nicotine, caffeine, heroin (never addicted to that!) are all very addictive and very hard to quit, because of the powerful withdrawal symptoms that kick in when you try to do so. It’s just not the same with carbs.

    Whenever I go face down in the donuts, like I’ve been doing for the past 10 days or so since I’ve been on vacation in Mexico, I find it pretty easy to switch back to my normal low carb diet a few days after coming home. Usually I do have a few mild cravings to deal with for the first two or three days, but nothing close to the withdrawal symptoms associated with cigarette and caffeine.

    I gather that truly addictive substances, like nicotine, caffeine, heroin, cause some physical changes in the brain, and that this is responsible for the intense withdrawal symptoms. Is there any evidence for these types of changes associated with carbs?

    I haven’t seen any studies on brain changes and carb addiction. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they existed.

  50. This dovetails with my pet theory that if there is such a thing as a gateway drug, it would be sugar.

    Another pet theory of mine is that sugar and poor nutrition play a significant role in mental health problems. I’m not sure if you’ve ever blogged about it, but I think its a subject that deserves attention.

  51. I just had a breast biopsy a few weeks ago. It’s funny how your entire mindset changes when something like this happens…if you are a low carber. I was preparing myself for the worst scenario and began considering how to implement a lower or even zero carb diet to fight my cancer. Well, fortunately I don’t have cancer, but I was ready. I made sure that I mentioned this article to my husband since his mom died from colon cancer. His dad had both prostate and colon cancer at the time of his death.

    I wonder if doctors are treating Senator Kennedy’s and Patrick Swayzee’s cancer with a ketogenic diet?

    I would be willing to bet they aren’t treating either cancer with a ketogenic diet.

  52. What a great post! I’ve forwarded it to many in my family and close friends. Not that it will do any good 😉

    In regards to kids. I have 4 who are with me 50% of the week. At my house, we eat the way I do.
    And I don’t obsess about what they eat when they are out. My two oldest (14, 12) never tasted a sip of soda until they were 9. Guess what? They think it’s gross and hvae no taste for it.
    The 2 youngest (10, 8) who tasted soda at a young age, beg for coke or whatever, every chance they have. Interesting right?
    Thanks again for your great blog Dr. Eades.


  53. Nonegiven and others … about Erythritol. It was only recently approved here in the EU and the manufacturers had to document its effects thoroughly. I don’t have the links handy, but I remember reading that 95 percent of it were excrete within 24 hrs. in the urine and that it was absorped into your bloodstream in the small intestine – hence no GI hassle later in the colon.

    It’s funny, in the approval it was declared that Erythritol must NOT be added to liquid products … mayby the sugar lobby managed to sort of ease in that little proviso. And of course that you should only consume about 20 g a day … (similar to their recommendations for other sugar alcohols).


  54. Dr Eades – I am curious as to why no one in these posts has ever mentioned the fact that human breast milk is sweet. We must be wired to be attracted to sweet.

    Also, one doesn’t really understand addiction if you think you can just ‘snap out of it’. When you talk about carbs being addictive I know you are not overstating it. That was my reality. It crossed my mind several times in the beginning that this must what it was like to be addicted to drugs. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. Think of all the people who need rehab to overcome drug addiction. It is not always a matter of willpower.

  55. Hello Dr. Eades: How are you? I have a question? Is it bad to eat 100 grams of protein at a single meal? I ask this because my dinner at night is composed of a protein pancake i cook which has 100 grams of protein. I would like to know what happens to the other grams of protein that are not used as protein? Do they turn into carbohydrates? or are they stored as protein to be used later by the body?

    It depends upon what else is eaten. If no carbs are eaten, some of the protein is converted to glucose. Some can be burned for energy. And some go into the body’s amino acid pool.

  56. Thank you very much for this post. Just enough tech talk to be illustrative, not enough to be confusing. I’m a PET technologist and I can attest to the fact that tumor cells are extremely glucose avid, as well as hypermetabolic. It’s the basis of our technology. And yes, I too will agree that carbs are highly addictive. Personally, I’ve been doing well though on low carb. But it’s not my first attempt. That was 5 yrs ago when I followed Dr. Atkins’ book to the letter. It was extremely difficult at first but I ultimately dropped about 72 pounds, after one and a half yrs. I then got complacent and little by little drifted back to high carb eating. I went on and off low carb for a good while. The reason? Carbs are addictive. You said it. Also convenient. I’m back to very low carb right now and feel good just from doing it. Thanks again for this interesting post. Jim

    Glad you enjoyed it. Good luck on low-carb this time around.

  57. I’ve read the Time article before. One of the reasons they probbaly failed is that the diet was based on “high-quality plant oils, such as hempseed and linseed oil, and protein from soy and animal products.” Such a diet is idiotic and dangerous in a number of ways. Gary Taubes noted how all the studies blaming cancer on fat used PUFA oils. Why would you feed people those oils to treat cancer? Butter, coconut oil, and beef fat seem like a better choice. And the soy was probably carcinogenic in and of itself. Get rid of the soy protein and vegetable oils and people may have been able to stick with low-carb diet in that study.

    “So, yes, carbs are addictive. Especially the carb-fat combo.”

    Esp the cooked fat and cooked carb combo. I doubt anyone could ever get addicted to raw carbohydrates (fresh fruit, unheated honey, raw milk). Cook or pasteurized or freeze them, however, and you can probably make them highly addictive. The combination of wheat flour, sugar, and fat is particularly addictive and deadly. These effects might not occur with more natural / paleo foods like roots, tubers, fruits, unheated honey, etc.

  58. It’s not like oncologists don’t know about this. A required diagnostic test for cancer is a PET scan. An oncologist places the patient on a no-carb diet for 12 hours, then injects him/her with radioactive sugar. Then technicians take radio-pictures as the tumor(s) devour the radio-sugar.

    But when it comes to treatment, somehow a low carb diet is more dangerous than killing the patient’s vital organs and spreading the cancer.

    Cancer tissue requires sugar/carbs. Human tissue does not.

  59. Mike,

    I will send you that study, together with another one you may be interested in as it describes how taste buds have receptors (CD36-type receptors), that can bind fatty acids. In essence, the study discusses how we may be wired to recognize fatty foods, for survival perhaps? From an evolutionary stand point, that may have provided an edge to find and stick with foods that were dense in energy when times were tough. I will send you both studies.

    Thanks. I’ll watch for them.

  60. Dr. Mike,
    What do you say to people who argue that low-carb lifestyles are socially irresponsible? You know, the “Diet-For-a Small-Planet” people, who love to tell you how much grain it takes to produce a pound of meat. These people make a case that low-carb is almost immoral, and some of them are pretty convincing.


    I tell them they can kiss my you-know-what. I despise these holier-than-thou types. I’m planning a book on this very topic (the idea, not the holier-than-thou types) soon. I would have it finished already, but every time I read something one of these nimrods has written, it makes my blood boil, and I have to turn my attention to something else.

  61. I hate to be a Grinch, but the Warburg effect was something I raised with a doctor who was tending my mother (in terminal decline with oesophagical cancer).

    I had noted that a major part of her diet (non solid) was comprised of a proprietary product (canned, and labelled). On reading the label I discovered it was basically liquid glucose with some additives.

    I voiced my concerns that my mother was being fed inappropriately and was airily dismissed by the doctor who told me cancer cells fed on everything.

    Can I be blamed if I view the medical profession as “quacks”.

    The doctor was a dolt. Don’t tar all of us with the quack brush.

  62. Thank you for this interesting article. There is solid scientific support for reducing blood glucose levels in the treatment of cancer in this article published in Nature last spring “The M2 splice isoform of pyruvate kinase is important for cancer metabolism and tumour growth” at

    The article discusses a switch in metabolism in cancer cells to using the embyronic form of pyruvate kinase, which results in decreased oxidative phosphorylation (dependent on oxygen) and increased glycolysis (producing lactate without oxygen). They report that a “single switch in a splice isoform of the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase is necessary for the shift in cellular metabolism to aerobic glycolysis and that this promotes tumorigenesis. Tumour cells have been shown to express exclusively the embryonic M2 isoform of pyruvate kinase.” When they blocked this switch to glycolysis, the cells were less tumorigenic. They conclude that the switch results in a metabolic advantage for cancer cells in vivo.

    So dropping blood glucose levels starves cancer cells, relative to high glucose levels at least. Anything that slows them down is a good idea!

  63. BTW- if breast milk is sweet and is nearly identical in composition to saturated fat, is it no wonder we find the sweet/fat confection irresistible and addictive?

  64. I think carbs are definitely addictive.
    I’ve been reading Dr Shari Lieberman’s book – “Is gluten making me ill?”
    One interesting thing I read was how going gluten free and dairy free helps kids with autism and pervasive dvelopmental delay (PDD), Asperger’s syndrome, ADD and ADHD.
    A PDD boy (2.5 yrs old) with problems with fine motor coordination, speech and severe drooling. Also he had no expressive language and was unable to play appropriately. The child was put on gluten free and dairy free and astonished parents noted that he “woke up”. He had dramatic progess – improved motor skills, eye contact and awareness of surrounding. Later on his drooling which was severe is now almost gone and he is no longer speech delayed.

    Anyway, (as Dr Lieberman writes) the point is that the inability to digest peptides can cause inflammation and immune reactivity, as well as produce morphine-like compounds (in the PDD boy above). These effects cause an opioid addiction similar to addiction to morphine. The opioid addiction explains why these children often have an incredibly high tolerance for pain (as is the case of kids that bang their head) and why many experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those drugs. When gluten is removed some may have severe withdrawal symptoms but then improve and “wake up”.

    Maybe carbs being addictive is mostly because of gluten?

  65. To Dan re: Response to the “Diet-For-a Small-Planet” folks
    So many points could be made, but start with these:
    1. The vast majority of the earth’s land surface isn’t suited to the production of fruits, grain, & vegetables. But a significant portion of it is well suited to the production of high quality protein and fat via ruminant animals and managed grasslands. (That US-type agriculture feeds grain to cattle and sheep doesn’t refute this fact.)
    2. Well-managed grass-based agriculture (the production of milk, meat, and fiber from perennial grasslands) is sustainable, and beneficial to the environment (again, the fact that the majority of agricultural practices in the US don’t model this reality doesn’t refute these facts).
    3. Unlike fruits, grain, & vegetables, the high-quality protein and fat from animals provides all of the essential amino acids, and fatty acids humans require.
    4. Eating the “Diet-For-a Small-Planet” diet is, therefore, the unsustainable, environmentally irresponsible, unhealthful choice that has lead/is leading the world into an epidemic of chronic disease that is awe-inspiring to contemplate – tooth & gum disease, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, Alzheimers, etc. What is/will be the impact of the resource demand for the treatment of these (and other) diseases that are now known (or strongly suspected) of being the result of high-carbohydrate diets?
    5. Then, if they haven’t attacked you by this point, you might ask them if there would have been a slave trade from Africa into the new world if the English and Europeans hadn’t been addicted to sugar … Hmmm

    Have fun …


    Thanks for the great answer. It’s the one I would have come up with had I had the time, although mine probably wouldn’t have been as thorough as yours. I appreciate your taking the time to write it up.



  66. Mike, I couldn’t dig the print copy of the study from my boxes but I did tracked it on the net. I can’t access the original Australian journal any more but I did find the study hosted online here:

    I made a pdf from that site and sent it to you, together the other article I promised.


    Hey Gabe–

    Thanks for the papers. And thanks for putting up the link to the Australian paper I mention in PPLP so that everyone can read it.



  67. Hi, Dr. Mike. Thank you so much for this post. I am not well educated in medicine, but sometimes our bodies and their reactions to certain situations are actually telling us something if we would pay attention.

    I firmly believe in carb and sugar addiction. I have no doubt that I am completely addicted to all things sweet and carby. Recently, I noticed that every time I overdo the sweets, I get really ‘zoned out’, and soon thereafter drift off to sleep. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, nor does it matter how much sleep I may have had the night before. If I’m at work, I can’t focus on my job very well, and I will yawn my head off and be miserable until quitting time. I also took note that when I am really nervous or stressed, I reach for sweet things, and I mellow out quickly. This is not much different from a drug addict. So I believe I am using carbs as my drug of choice to calm me down.

    I decided about a week ago that I had to get back to a low-carb way of living. I considered going back to the Protein Power plan. I had done well on this low carb plan three years earlier, and I had lost over 50 pounds. I had kept this weight off and felt fabulous for 2 years. After some big changes in my life, I drifted back into high-carb, high-sugar eating. That was one of the most stupid things I’ve ever done. I have gained everything back that I’ve lost. (By the way, I am only 5’1″, and I weight 197 lbs.) Anyway, after reading some forums, I decided to try the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet. For the past week, I admit I have dropped about 5 lbs., all of which are probably fluid, but when I eat my one big reward meal each evening (lots of carbs), I almost instantly fall asleep! I did this four days ago, and I slept for three hours, woke up, and made it to the bed where I slept another 7 hours. I feel okay through the day when I’m not carb loading, but I have no life after dinner. I don’t think my body is tolerating the carbs well at all.

    Also, my sister has just been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. She is 55 years old, 14 years my senior. My dad passed away in 2004 from prostate cancer. He was also a Type II diabetic, as were all of his 8 brothers and sisters (6 of them deceased, also). I am so afraid that I will someday be included in this number, and I don’t want to be.

    My doctor did a complete bloodwork on me about 2 months ago, and he said everything was great. He included some type of blood sugar test in this, although I hadn’t fasted breakfast that morning. My sister said for 3 months that this type of test kept showing up fine with her. Then one night she felt really bad, went to the emergency room, and her blood sugar was well over 300.

    As much as I love sugar, I want good health much, much more. Your post has opened my eyes once again to the danger I’m placing myself in. Thank you for a reality check that I was needing so badly. I’m going back and hitting the Protein Power book really hard. My name is Carol Ann, and I am a carboholic.

    ~Carol Ann

    Hey Carol Ann–

    Thanks for writing. Good luck with your low-carb efforts this time around. I think you’ll have better luck with a real low-carb diet that you follow all the time as opposed to the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, which is a low-carb diet for only part of the time.



  68. Annie: “If polyunsaturated oils are so bad — why are nuts and oily fish — both high in polyunsaturated oils ok? I love dry roasted nuts but tend to eat way too many of them.”

    I think they are bad. Almonds have a 28:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and about 20% PUFAs by fat. Half a cup of almonds has more PUFAs than half a chicken with the skin. I would eat chicken in lieu of eating nuts. Most of them are way too high in PUFAs, addictive, and not satisfying. Nuts and seeds can be eaten in large amounts, whereas most people would be unable to eat a half chicken in the space of, say, an hour. Nuts and seeds are inferior food, esp the roasted salted variety. Buy raw nuts and shell them by hand. Hazelnuts are pretty low in PUFAs – roughly 10%. Macadamias and coconuts are even lower (like 1-4% PUFAs). Other nuts and seeds have 20-80% PUFAs. It is harmful to eat excess PUFAs of any kind, IMO. Much better to eat more saturated and mono-unsaturated fats. Beef, butter, lamb, pork leaf fat, macadamia oil, coconut oil, marrow, foie gras, duck, goose, pork, etc.

  69. I am not so sure “addictive” is the correct word. after the misery of chemo radio etc and the chances of a meaningful healthy post cancer life being v small. What the hell “go out with a hoot and a “holler! Eat what the hell you want.

    I’ve been with several friends through cancer. All but one died. One who died was my mother. My mother had oesophagical cancer. Swallowing ,obviously, becomes problematical. The main part of her dietary regime consisisted of a canned liquid with a very high sucrose load.

    I pointed this out to her MD who airily dismissed my concerns. She had never heard of the Warburg effect.

    The one friend who has not died is my wife who is swinging around to my own low carb diet v quickly

  70. How interesting. This information completely contradicts the book The China Study, which says that animal protein causes cancer to grow. How is this possible?

    Maybe because the book The China Study is a load of BS. Read this review.

  71. Are brain tumor cells more glucose-dependent than other tumor cells, by virtue of the fact that normal brain cells thrive on glucose?

    I’m not certain as to the relative differences in cancer cells by type, but I would think most cancer cells would be about equally glucose-dependent because the ability of these cells to use fat is impaired, which would make all tumors glucose-dependent regardless of whether the normal cells were glucose-dependent or not.

  72. Jenjen, it’s true that POWDERED CASEIN mixed CORNSTARCH, SUCROSE, and CORN OIL causes cancer to grow. T. Colin Campbell has done studies feeding rats such a diet (which obviously requires supplements to prevent massive deficiencies). And it’s clear that the rats eating less (processed) casein had less cancer. But this doesn’t prove that natural foods would have the same effect, like raw milk, raw cheese, fresh meat, fresh eggs, etc.

    Colin Campbell mixes several foods together and blames one of them. This is not scientific. He needs to isolate his variables – cornstarch, sugar, and corn oil in particular. Then he makes a bogus extrapolation from casein to animal protein in general. The China Study does not prove any of Colin Campbell’s contentions against animal protein. His animal studies only prove that a diet high in animal protein, refined sugar, grains, and vegetable oils is unhealthy IMO. There is room for debate on which of those is the root of the problem.

  73. Hi Doctor Eades, I’m a big fan of your blog and aspire to do what you and Doctor Atkins did someday, with more of a research-oriented career focus involing LC diets. I’m currently a university student (Duke) trying to keep out of the carbs for health reasons, which works pretty well until my food points run low and I have to eat mostly eggs for a couple of months at the end of the semester! Exams week can also be a challenging time. Eschewing comforting carbs becomes progressively more difficult the later you stay up studying! I forwarded this study to my pops who is facing oral cancer, in the hopes that he can at least cut back on the sweets.

    I was also wondering what you thought of this study:

    Should we be wary of our protein consumption now?


    The last line of the article says it all:

    This is just a hypothesis.

    I don’t worry about my protein intake.

  74. What about the cancer cells found in the thyroid? Are these somehow different structurally? Hormonally? Or is a cancer cell a cancer cell?

    There are many differences between cancer cells of various types, but as far as glucose-dependency goes, I think they are all pretty much the same.

  75. Funny that I read your post just after I read an article in my newspaper about a new study: , “Identification of a dietary pattern characterized by high-fat food choices associated with increased risk of breast cancer: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam Study”,

    in the British Journal of Nutrition, where they say: “In conclusion, a food pattern characterized by high-fat food choices was significantly associated with increased risk of breast cancer.” “A food pattern characterized by low consumption of bread, and fruit juices”, so the high fat content is the reason for breast cancer?!?

    Too bad the article costs money, I’d love to see whether they have a more exact description of the overall content of carbohydrates in the food…. Or if that study is a proper study at all.

    I am sure that low carb is the right way to eat for the body, and contradicting information like this just annoys me….

    Thanks for your informative blog!

    This is simply an observational study, and, as such, can’t be used to predict causality. That doesn’t stop people from trying, however.

  76. “In conclusion, a food pattern characterized by high-fat food choices was significantly associated with increased risk of breast cancer.” “A food pattern characterized by low consumption of bread, and fruit juices”

    They don’t say that the diet was low in carbohydrates or processed vegetable oils, so it may have been a diet high in french fries, soft drinks, doughnuts, ice cream, potato chips, etc. I always dismiss studies that talk about “high-fat diets” without giving exact percentages of fat, and also exact percentages of carbs and protein for that matter. You don’t know what they defined as “bread”, maybe doughnuts and pastries got excluded even though they are made from flour. French fries and potato chips would fit that description of high-fat, low in bread and fruit juices. But they are both unhealthy for various reasons.

  77. I have been searching through your posts for heart disease references and was interested in the early heart disease posts on this comment board. I wonder if you could point me to some reading material that discusses how to BEGIN the low carb diet POST sudden death heart type attack? My husband (not at all overweight, fairly healthy eating habits, sedentary job, little exercise) had a “sudden death” heart attack in the ER after experiencing back pain after strenous mopping and wringing (trying to keep the basement dry after the record rain!) severe enough to warrant a trip to the ER. We were very lucky that it happened in the ER…he survived. He had a 100% blockage in one artery, probably caused by a clot breaking off from one of the two 70% blockages found on angiograph (two stents placed during emergency angioplasty). No other significant artery blockage was seen. He is only 51 with a maternal history of mild heart attack at age 62. His LDL was 163, HDL was only 39. Blood pressure normal. Very low HDL, and LDL not great but not outrageous. I apologize for the rambling here, my point is this: I have been on a low carb lifestyle for a few years that was dissed by all because of the consumption of meat and high fat butter and cream (in moderation). After Mike’s heart attack, I went in for a blood draw (second guessing myself!) My HDL is 73, my LDL is 114, and my triglycerides are 37… I am vindicated. However, my husband’s doctors want him on the low fat diet with lots of whole grains , lentils, beans…..and even recommended daily use of PROMISE spread (isn’t that margerine?!!!). They also put him on 5 different daily meds including statins. This for someone who has never had a health complaint or any serious illness ever. I want him to cut down severly on carbs and not to be afraid of “healthy” fats in moderation….and step up the exercise. He is reluctant to start this without reading about the implementation of low carb protein power type diet after identified heart disease post significant heart attack. I must admit that I am wary as well. No doctor in our treatment team supports it. Can you recommend any studies or other reading that will guide us? Thank you for your time………..

    I understand, given the amount of misinformation out there, how you could be concerned. I can’t provide specific recommendations, but I can tell you that I have started a number of patients post-MI on low-carb diets (as described in Protein Power) without problems. My partner, Dr. Larry McCleary, a busy neurosurgeon had a heart attack one night while making rounds in the hospital. He almost died, but had an emergency angioplasty during which his coronary artery ruptured. He immediately underwent emergency bypass. All at age 46. Once he got out of the hospital, his carbiologist (what a Fruedian slip – I intended to write: cardiologist) put him on the Ornish diet, which almost finished the job the heart attack started. He was weak and felt horrible. He got a hold of a copy of Protein Power, read it and thought it was the most sensible thing he had read on diet, and started low-carb. He felt better immediately, recovered nicely, and 11 years later is the picture of health. This is pretty much the same diet history of all my patients who are post-MI. During this affair, MD and I met Dr. McCleary, and we became partners in a couple of business ventures.

    Hope this helps.

  78. “Sigh.”
    I remember when my mother was dying of oesophogical cancer, I checked out the ingredient label on a canned liquid product that was the mainstay of her diet provided by the hospital. The principal ingredient was glucose.

    I queried this with the staff and was assured that cancer cells fed on everything.

    A fat lot of of notice was taken of me who quoted the Warburg effect.

    Medics always know best…..

  79. It’s sad. My MIL who passed of inflammatory breast cancer was told to “eat whatever you want”. This was unfortunately all the sugary junk food she wanted. Like the previous poster, I did question the doctor, and was told “nutrition won’t help”… I wasn’t convinced, but my MIL, who had the final say on what she ate, was..

    I may not have helped at her stage, but, again, what would it have hurt? It may have done the trick.

  80. Dr. Eades, this is a fantastic post – thanks for all that you do.

    I’ve read that women who eat a fattier diet are more prone to breast cancer and was wondering if it was not the dietary fat but the high carbohydrate eating that is more common? Could it be that they have studied the fat intake but not the rest of what a person is eating… i.e. refined carbohydrates combined with fat?

    There are many studies from Italy showing a correlation between starch intake and breast cancer, but these studies, like all the studies showing fat intake correlating with breast cancer are observational studies, and, as such, can’t be used to determine causality.

  81. Concerning the cancer section above:

    As far as I’m aware, in a state of ketosis, ketones are used as a substitute for glucose molecules for the body’s normal cells. Cancerous cells obviously differentiate between the ketones and glucose but how?

    Have these cancer trials been run as truly low carb whereby the body enters ketosis or have they been simply a lowering of carbs so lipid metabolism becomes the dominant energy source?

    Forgive me if I’ve assumed anything that’s incorrect, I’m at the very forefront of my knowledge here :) Please do get as scientific as you dare in your reply!

    The cancerous cells differentiate between glucose and ketones because glucose and ketones are two different substances. Many tissues can use both as fuel, but some can’t. The red blood cells, for example, can use only glucose. Certain cells in the eye and in the kidney work the same. As I understand it – and I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t made a study of the subject – it’s the same for cancer cells. They use only glucose.

    I’m not intimately familiar with the studies on low carb diets and cancer therapy. If you want to learn more, you can start here and here.

  82. It’s sad when people can’t stick to a no-carb diet to save their life. What’s sadder, in my opinion, is when they won’t even consider it because “medical science” says it’s a bad thing.

    My brother has colon cancer. He’s had the surgery and the chemo, and so far the cancer is winning. I suggested he research the ketogenic diet: MedLine says it not only doesn’t work for the kind of cancer he has, but is dangerous, especially for someone with diabetes or heart disease. (He has Type 2 diabetes, as I do, and hypertension, and there is a family history of people dying of heart attacks.)

    I can’t see where arguing with him is going to help – he has too many “authorities” on his side.

  83. These comments remind me of the deaths of
    1. My mother, and,
    2. A good friend.

    Both died of oesophagal cancer.

    For a variety of, off topic, reasons I did not catch up with my mother until a couple months
    before her death.

    One day while visiting her at home i noticed a large number cans on the kitchen table.
    These cans were a proprietary liquid product, provided by the hospital caring for her. Being me I carefully read the back label. It was loaded with sugars (no doubt to provide tired cancer victims with “energy” to hasten their death).

    I queried one of the doctors involved about the wisdom of feeding cancer patients high sugar food. I was airily dismissed “cancer cells feed on everything”.

    Clearly (at that time) a piece of a 70 year old Nobel Peace Prize research had not penetrated the minds of our local medics.

    Some seven years later a friend of had the same fate. He died two months ago.

    It is not only the victims who are addicted to carbohydrates it is the medical profession
    as well.

    Sad, but very true.

  84. To MV Moore,

    Your blood lipid results speak for themselves. If your husband would like comprehensive information from a cardiologist who is witnessing the benefits of low-carb in his own practice, both of you could visit hosted by Dr William Davis.

  85. I’m very sorry for those who are involved with cancer. It really hurts you a lot to lose another person, but carbohydrates is one thing that matters, depending on your appetite and resistance. Thanks for this wonderful article.

  86. Surely you must understand, as a doctor, that those patients who are very close to death, no longer need food. My dad couldn’t eat anything at the point he stopped treatment. To say that they are “addicted” at that point is rediculous. I think those in the study were perhaps further from death than many who are finished with treatment.

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  88. I understand the theory here, but not entirely if it is proven… are the mitochondria disabled or at least compromised in ALL cancer cells, or only in certain forms of cancer?

    Is the switch to glycolysis something that happens from the hypoxic environment within a tumour that can’t get adequate oxygen via blood supply? If so, perhaps it may shrink a tumour, but I don’t think it would hamper cancers that are spreading throughout the body…

    If this may help there is still much to learn about what situations it may help.

  89. Cachexia or extreme loss of appetite is a common symptom of cancers. It is obviously an evolutionary mechanism to induce ketosis. However patients are advised to eat up to ‘maintain their strength’. This is absurd as no one is likely suffer any serious heath effects from reduced eating.

    Cats and dogs often rest and completely avoid eating for a few days they are sick.

  90. I recently watched a documentary called The Beautiful Truth. Dr. Gerson touched on carbs and cancer. It is stunning what carbs do to the body and how people become so addicted (like cocaine). Thank you for sharing!!

  91. Eating carbohydrates stimulates the excretion of insulin which is necessary for getting glucose from outside cells through the lipoproten cell walls (active transport) to inside where it can be used for anearobic glycolysis. Ketone bodies can passively cross cell and blood-brain barriers to be utilized for energy. Cancer cells are dependent on insulin/glucose and would have to slow their growth and replication to shift to ketone body metabolism. Also, Acetone and other ketones may induce histone-faciliated DNA repair and spontaneous remission.

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