Breakthrough Finding: How Sugar Fuels Cancer Growth

Breakthrough Finding: How Sugar Fuels Cancer Growth
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Scientists from Belgian are reporting a great breakthrough in understanding in what way sugar fuels cancer.

The discoveries, reported in the journal Nature Communications, help untangle what has been a scientific mystery to medical researchers – exactly how sugar makes tumors grow quicker. The new knowledge may help lead to discovering new ways to fighting cancer, through diet and other alteration of sugar intake.

Breakthrough Finding: How Sugar Fuels Cancer Growth

Breakthrough Finding: How Sugar Fuels Cancer Growth

The research team – led by Johan Thevelein, Wim Versées and Veerle Janssens – have been studying sugar’s connection to cancer for almost a decade. They and other scientists have determined tumor cells grow by quickly breaking down glucose (a form of sugar) – a phenomenon also known as the “Warburg effect.”

But the new study determined exactly how. The Belgian team found that yeast with high levels of glucose overstimulates proteins frequently found mutated in human tumors, making cells grow quicker.

“The study is capable to explain the connection between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness,” Thevelein, from KU Leuven in Belgium, said in a release.

“This connection between cancer and sugar has extensive consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more exact and relevant focus.”

He added that follow-up research is required to establish that eating a low-sugar diet might help avoid or combat cancer.

“The discoveries are not enough to recognize the primary cause of the Warburg effect,” Thevelein said. “Additional research is required to discover whether this primary cause is as well conserved in yeast cells.”

Victoria Stevens, a cancer researcher with the American Cancer Society who wasn’t involved in the study, told USA Today the research is an “a small step in a long process,” but could have significant implications.

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