The fact that there is an important correlation between sugar and cancer has been debated for some time but now new research has managed to turn this issue around by explaining the mechanisms underlying the relationship between excessive sugar intake and cell growth. tumors.
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On the fact that between sugar and cancer there is an important correlation that has been debated for some time, but now new research has managed to change the question by explaining the mechanisms underlying the relationship between excessive sugar intake and the growth of cancer cells.
We know that the cells of the human body require energy and this is obtained from the sugars present in the food we eat. Cancer cells are no exception, as they too need sugar to grow. What distinguishes them from healthy cells, however, is the fact that their glucose intake is much higher than that of non-degenerate cells as well as the fermentation rate of glucose into lactic acid.
This is known as Warburg effect (from the name of the German Nobel laureate doctor who discovered it at the beginning of the 900s) and is hypothesized to have to do with the rapid growth rate of cancer even if it is not yet clear whether it is a symptom or a cause of the appearance of this disease.
A Belgian-Dutch research team from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the VIB-VUB Center for Structural Biology in Brussels has been studying the subject for nine years identifying the mechanism by which cancer cells metabolise sugar. To achieve this result, yeast cells were used that have a “Ras” gene that “programs” the synthesis of the homonymous proteins that are also commonly found in cancer cells.
It has thus been seen that in yeast cells with a large influx of glucose, Ras proteins are activated too much and consequently the cells then grow at an accelerated rate. Basically what happens to cancer if there is a large presence of sugar is that, in this way, it can become more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Johan Thevelein, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, stated in this regard:
"We have observed that sugar degradation in yeast is linked to the activation of Ras proteins via the fructose 1,6-biophosphate intermediate, which stimulates the multiplication of both: yeast and cancer cells (...) Our research reveals how the consumption of Overactive sugar of cancer cells leads to a vicious cycle of continual stimulation of cancer development and growth. Therefore it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and the aggressiveness of the tumor ”.
This is a "turning point" as the researchers have defined it but it is still far from being able to stem the advance of cancer thanks to the understanding of this mechanism. This could be the key to "starving" cancer cells, but the problem is how to do it without creating problems even for healthy ones.
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The results obtained from this research are undoubtedly important and will be a fundamental basis for future studies on the subject. They could also have implications for creating ad hoc diets for cancer patients.