Cancer metabolism: facts, fantasy, and fiction

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Jan 16;313(3):459-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2003.11.136.


The concept of a glycolytic cancer cell was introduced by Warburg over 70 years ago. This perception has since become the rationale that drives a considerable proportion of basic research on cancer, and it influences the current strategies for the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of cancer. Here we review the data from the last 40 years on this issue. We conclude that there is no evidence that cancer cells are inherently glycolytic, but that some tumours might indeed be glycolytic in vivo as a result of their hypoxic environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism


  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Oxygen