The prevailing aerobic glycolysis (so called Warburg effect) in cancer cells is according to current understanding the consequence of reprogramming of cellular metabolism during the process of malignant transformation. Metabolic regulation is inseparable component of cell proliferation machinery and has a tight link with activities of oncogenes and suppressor genes. The purpose of metabolic reprogramming of cancer (but also normal intensively proliferating cells) is to incorporate greater fraction of glucose metabolites into newly synthesised macromolecules. Apart from that, aerobic glycolysis confers several other selective advantages to cancer cells. Epidemiological data indicate that type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with increased incidence of several types of cancer and that cancer mortality can be influenced by certain types of anti-diabetic treatment, however future research is needed to explain whether this relationship might be causal. Deeper knowledge about metabolic properties of rapidly proliferating cells can be exploited for further improvement of anti-cancer, immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory therapies.