There has been a resurgence of interest in cancer metabolism; primarily in the resetting of metabolism within malignant cells. Metabolism within cells has always been a tightly regulated process; initially in protozoans due to metabolic enzymes, and the intracellular signalling pathways that regulate these, being directly sensitive to the availability of nutrients. With the evolution of metazoans many of these controls had been overlaid by extra-cellular regulators that ensured coordinated regulation of metabolism within the community of cells that comprised the organism. Central to these systemic regulators is the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system that throughout evolution has integrated the control of tissue growth with metabolic status. Oncological interest in the main systemic metabolic regulators greatly subsided when pharmaceutical strategies designed to treat cancers failed in the clinic. During the same period, however the explosion of new information from genetics has revealed the complexity and heterogeneity of advanced cancers and helped explain the problems of managing cancer when it reaches such a stage. Evidence has also accumulated implying that the setting of the internal environment determines whether cancers progress to advanced disease and metabolic status is clearly an important component of this local ecology. We are in the midst of an epidemic of metabolic disorders and there is considerable research into strategies for controlling metabolism. Integrating these new streams of information suggests new possibilities for cancer prevention; both primary and secondary.