One of the most exciting areas of cancer research currently takes inspiration from the Warburg Effect. Researchers base that on the work of German physiologist and Nobel laureate Dr Otto Warburg in the 1920s.

Warburg described ‘aerobic glycolysis’ – a defect in mitochondrial glucose metabolism. He showed how it causes fermentation of glucose and diverts glucose from energy production to cell growth. That has given rise to the ketogenic diets as adjuncts to conventional treatment methods for cancer. 

Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung has a special interest in weight management, diabetes and cancer. Not the least because many of his patients are obese diabetics. And research shows that diabetes significantly ups the risk of cancer. 

Fung says that the simplistic notion that a ketogenic diet may ‘starve’ cancer cells of glucose does not hold up to the facts. Indeed, in certain cancers, he says that glutamine is the more important component. Here, he looks at the implications of the ‘paradox’ of the Warburg effect. – MARIKA SBOROS