Belgium researchers have found that high levels of sugar are related to the development of mutated mass in humans. According to them, glucose overstimulate the proteins found in tumors, making the cells to grow faster. The discovery could lead to new ways to create cancer treatments based on diets.
Over a period of nine years, scientists performed a series of experiments and discovered something that few others imagined before. Although more research has to be made about the matter, this could mean that sugar not only leads people to diabetes and obesity but also to one of the hardest conditions that affect our lives: cancer.
For many years, the researchers wondered how sugar could intervene in cancer. Previous studies suggested that glucose make tumors grow faster, but scientists never knew exactly why. However, the paper reported Friday in the journal Nature Communications explains how it’s possible for sugar to accelerate the development of mutated cells.
The scientists explained to Business Insider how every non-cancerous cells get energy, which is very important to understand sugar fasting growing molecules. The process requires oxygen, thus releasing carbon dioxide at the end of it.
Through the process, the body transforms food into energy while making digestion. This energy is commonly sent to normal cells. But those that are mutated do not receive any kind of the final energy in the biological process. Rather, cancer cells harness energy from fermenting sugar.
The process of fermenting sugars throws less energy than the process of getting energy from oxygen. This sugar-heavy phenomenon is known as the “Warburg effect,” and harness the cells and leads them to create a faster cancer. According to the paper, yeast and cancer cells share the “unusual characteristic of favoring fermentation of sugar over respiration.”
The study can “explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness,” the lead author and Belgian molecular biologist Johan Thevelein, who teaches at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, said in a statement.
“This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus,” said Thevelein.
People with cancer should stop consuming sugar
According to Thevelein, “the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells” triggers a hard-to-stop cycle process that continues stimulating the cancer development and its growth. This cycle continues working until the person kills the tumor, or until it lows the sugar intake.
There are previous studies throwing clues about the behavior of cells under sugar consumption. Scientists said that they are very optimistic due to this new results and that they will start studying sugar-free diets and compare them to this actual study.
However, scientists advised people who have cancer to stop their sugar ingestion, or at least to try eating less.
A cancer researcher with the American Cancer Society who was not involved in the study, Victoria Stevens, told USA Today that the research is “a small step in a long process,” but could have significant implications.
Source: Nature Communications