Short-term starvation (STS) during chemotherapy can block the nutrient supply to tumors and make tumor cells much more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs than normal cells. However, because of the diversity of starvation methods and the heterogeneity of tumors, this method’s specific effects and mechanisms for chemotherapy are still poorly understood. In this study, we used HeLa cells as a model for short-term starvation and etoposide (ETO) combined treatment, and we also mimicked the short-term starvation effect by knocking down the glycolytic enzyme GAPDH to explore the exact molecular mechanism. In addition, our study demonstrated that short-term starvation protects cancer cells against the chemotherapeutic agent ETO by reducing DNA damage and apoptosis due to the STS-induced cell cycle G1 phase block and S phase reduction, thereby diminishing the effect of ETO. Furthermore, these results suggest that starvation therapy in combination with cell cycle-specific chemotherapeutic agents must be carefully considered.