Ensure and Boost Can Be Harmful to Cancer Patients

If you are a cancer patient, survivor, or have a family member diagnosed with any form of malignant tumors, surely you know about Ensure and Boost liquid nutritional supplements. They are the most recommended energy drink by oncologist and nutritionists in the USA in order to help very sick individuals to get enough calories, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. But more and more survivors as well as health professionals are questioning the effects they may have on consumers. Some go further to say they can do more harm than good to cancer patients due to certain ingredients they contain.

Boost Ingredients

Water, sugar , corn syrup solids, milk protein concentrate, vegetable oils (canola, high oleic sunflower, corn oils) and less than 0.5% of soy lecithin, carrageenan, salt, natural and artificial flavor, vitamin A palmitate, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin D3, vitamin E acetate… Butter Pecan flavored Boost also contains natural and artificial flavor, which contains pecan extract, sulfites and hydrolyzed soy protein. Strawberry flavored Boost contains Red 3 (color)….

Ensure Ingredients

Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Canola Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Corn Oil, Pea Protein Concentrate. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Natural & Artificial Flavor, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Choline Chloride….

Corn syrup solid 

Corn syrup solid is obtained by dehydrating the liquid to 10 percent water. At this stage the syrup is 100% glucose. To obtain high fructose corn syrup, food manufacturers add fructose, another form of unhealthy sugar. The solid form is not only used in Ensure and Boost energy drink, but also in drink mixes, baby formula, and others.  Numerous studies have demonstrated the relation of corn syrup to increased risk for diabetes and obesity, regardless taking it in liquid or solid form. Obesity itself increases the risk for many cancers.

In an article title “5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You”, Dr. Mark Hyman states “Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic dosesof 140 pounds per person per year.” Remember this is for healthy individuals. For cancer patients whose immune system is already weakened by the conventional treatment, and the cancer itself, the effects will be more serious.

The same doctor continues to say in other article published on huffingtonpost.com, title “Why You Should Never Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup”, high fructose corn syrup is the real driver of the current epidemic of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, dementia, and of course, Type 2 diabetes. This is even if the corn is not GMO.

Canola Oil and Corn Oil  

The problem with corn oil and canola oil is the fact most of them are produced from GMO seeds. As some studies have revealed, rats fed with GMOs are at greater risk of toxicity and higher incidence of disease. In an important study conducted by the Seralini’s group, Sprague-Dawley rats were fed with GMO corn for two years. The results, 80 of the rodents that ate the genetically modified corn got cancer. Talking about the same study, In a Dr. Oz show, Dr. Robin Bernhoftstates “most of the female rats got breast cancer. The male rats got inter-abdominal cancer. There were problems with the kidneys, the liver and the pituitary…”

Naturally corn oil is produced using high-heat processing, causing the polyunsaturated fats toreact with oxygen to form free radicals. In addition, corn oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids. According to The Genito Urinary Cancer Research Group, Cancer Research UK, “The Omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid, Arachidonic acid, has been shown to enhance the proliferation of malignant prostate epithelial cells and increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer

Artificial flavor  

The fact both Ensure and Boost just mention artificial flavor, it is difficult to assert particular health problems that can result from them. But in general, artificial Flavoring can lead to allergies, brain damage, seizures, depression, dizziness, chest pain, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Certain highly chemical-processed flavors can cause genetic defects and different types of cancer.


Sulfites are sulfur-based compounds also included in both Ensure and Boost. According to the FDA, about 1 percent of people in the United States are sensitive to the compounds. Adverse reactions to sulfites can be mild or life threatening; the problem is the fact the trigger for the sensitivity is not known to medical science as for today.

Hydrolyzed Soy Protein 

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is a flavor enhancer found in a great variety of processed foods in the US. It is produced by boiling soy in hydrochloric acid; the solution is then neutralized with sodium hydroxide.

The preparation requiresthe soy protein to be dropped into a vat of sulfuric acid, boiled for several hours or over a day in order to break down the proteins. Lye is then added to the finish product to raise the pH back to neutral. The reason Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is unsafe is because hydrolyzing a protein down to free amino acids usually results in glutamate. Although controversial, Some scientists believe stimulating glutamate receptors can cause cancer cells to grow much faster and become more invasive.

Also studies show that blocking these glutamate receptors can prevent cancer from spreading and cause tumors to shrink and even become much more sensitive to chemotherapy, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock

Soy Protein Isolate  

In animal studies, soy isolate has been linked to allergies, thyroid problems, and even brain damage, says Dr. Joseph Mercola. In addition to brain disorders, the food seems to increase the risk for certain cancers.  According to a journal from The Journal of Nutrition, published on PubMed, “some studies indicate that soy protein isolate increases the volume of breast fluid (marker of increased breast cancer risk), presence of hyperplastic epithelial cells, and cell proliferation.”

Potassium Chloride

The cancer treatment alone causes Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Potassium Chloride can cause or worsen these problems according to the WebMD group.


While drugs do not cure any disease, it is scientifically proven that cancer patients would have a better outcome from the therapies if they knew and controlled what they eat during and after the treatment.  All foods that increase the growth of malignant cells should be considered as an enemy of their recovery. And among these enemies include refined sugar, which undoubtedly weakens the immune system. When consider the devastating impact of the chemotherapy on the body, it is senseful to avoid any food that will enfeeble the immune system even more, sugar for instance.

Numerous evidences show excess levels of insulin and glucose (hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia) in the bloodstream is not only associated with diabetes mellitus but also a greater risk of pancreatic cancer.  Some scientists believe that frequent consumption of sugar and high-sugar foods may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by inducing frequent postprandial hyperglycemia, increasing insulin demand, and decreasing insulin sensitivity.

In a four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands, the researchers compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 healthycontrols. The risk of developing cancer, with regular Intake of sugar, was more than doubled. An epidemiological study conducted in 21 modern countries, including Japan and other countries in Europe and North America, revealed that sugar intake strongly contribute to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.



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  7. http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/
  8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/high-fructose-corn-syrup_b_4256220.html
  9. Brown MDHart CAGazi EBagley SClarke NW. “Promotion of prostatic metastatic migration towards human bone marrow stoma by Omega 6 and its inhibition by Omega 3 PUFAs.” PMID: 16523199 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC2361380
  10. Genetically Modified Foods: Are They Safe? Originally aired on 10/17/2012
  11. The Glutamate and Cancer Link: http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Dr-Blaylock/article/2012/06/07/id/482880/

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