A team of molecular biologists in Belgium have compiled research for nine years regarding sugar and stimulated tumor growth. The group has since published their findings in the Nature Communications journal - which could steer cancer and diet research in a more effective direction.
In the findings relayed by Business Insider, scientists explain the customary way non-cancerous cells get energy - through a process called aerobic respiration, where digested food is transformed into energy-filled molecules. The process, the site notes, requires oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.
Cancer cells, however, do not fall in line with that biological process. Instead, cancer cells harness energy from fermenting sugar. The energy output from this, the outlet relays, is lower than that of typical chemical reactions. This sugar-heavy phenomenon is called the “Warburg effect.”
According toBusiness Insider, researchers observed the fermentation process of yeast and found that they stimulate tumor growth. These cells share something in common with cancer cells. The study’s abstract reads, “Yeast and cancer cells share the unusual characteristic of favoring fermentation of sugar over respiration.”
Researchers have linked aggressive tumor growth with the sugar intake of cancer-causing genes called Ras proteins.
This means sugar can “awaken” cancer cells and make them multiply and expand.
The study’s lead author and Belgian molecular biologist Johan Thevelein, who teaches at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, said the following in a press release:
“The hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth.”
Previous studies have suggested that cancer treatments could be tailored to focus on the cancer cells’ tendency to consume sugar. So, with these new findings, scientists are optimistic that new diet plans could enhance treatment, Business Insider reports, from the Belgian study.
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