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Otto Warburg's discovery in the 1920s that tumor cells took up more glucose and produced more lactate than normal cells provided the first clues that cancer cells reprogrammed their metabolism. For many years, however, it was unclear as to whether these metabolic alterations were a consequence of tumor growth or an adaptation that provided a survival advantage to these cells. In more recent years, interest in the metabolic differences in cancer cells has surged, as tumor proliferation and survival have been shown to be dependent upon these metabolic changes. In this educational review, we discuss some of the mechanisms that tumor cells use for reprogramming their metabolism to provide the energy and nutrients that they need for quick or sustained proliferation and discuss the potential for therapeutic targeting of these pathways to improve patient outcomes.