Everyone knows that sugary diets can potentially lead to some fatal consequences, but a research published in the journal Cancer Research clearly shows that sugar fuels the growth of cancer tumors. Particularly fructose is a type of sugar that increases the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer.

Fructose, which is processed more by the liver, significantly affects a metabolic process called 12-LOX, helping cells metastasize or spread. Lorenzo Cohen from the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who work on the study, affirmed that most cancer patients do not die of their primary tumor, but of metastatic disease. This means that it is important what people eat after they are diagnosed with cancer, since bad diet choices can quickly lead them to a lethal stage of the disease.

An average 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. Photo: San Francisco Chronicle

Cohen pointed out that, in 1970, each American consumed about half a pound of fructose annually. In 1997, that rate increased to more than 62 pounds a year. He suggested that the widespread use of high fructose corn syrup significantly helped trigger that rate.

On the other hand, several experts and trade groups that represent the food and beverage industry affirm that fructose is a safe ingredient, since it is found in natural fruit. According to Cohen, that sugar type is fundamental to survive but too much of it can be toxic. He said that people do need sugar, but they refine it and consume it in exorbitant quantities.

“USDA, much to the anger of the sugar industry, said the maximum amount of sugar one should consumer in one’s diet is 10 percent of calories from sugar,” Cohen commented. “That’s around 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.”

In the lab

For this study, researchers tested the effects of different types of sugar on mice that were genetically predisposed to breast cancer, just like many people are. They fed them in doses similar to daily American consumption.

Study authors found that 50 percent of the mice that had consumed extra sucrose had breast tumors and the more sugar they consumed, the bigger the tumors grew. Given that sucrose is composed of both glucose and fructose, researchers wanted to see which one of them caused different effects, because the organism processes them differently.

Whereas, the pancreas and other organs process glucose more, fructose is processed more by the liver, explained Cohen. Then his team discovered that mice, which had been fed with more fructose, grew larger tumors and fast.

The research team concluded that, although any type of sugar helps make tumors grow faster, fructose drives the inflammatory process much more than glucose. It is true that fruit provides fructose, but it is combined with other nutrients such as fiber. Unlike fruits, sweetened soft drinks, which figures as the largest source of sugar in the western diet, offer only sugar and no other important nutrients.

High sugar consumption also fuels heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. As reported by NBC News, a study published in June 2015 revealed that 184,000 people die every year due to sugary diets.

Source: NBC News