Is America’s sweet tooth contributing to the nation’s cancer rates? New research by medical investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine suggests the answer is yes.
The study, published in the journal Cell, found that blocking dietary sugar and its activity in tumor cells may reduce cancer risk and progression, and also provides new insight into why metabolism-related diseases such as diabetes or obesity are associated with certain types of cancer, including pancreatic, breast, liver, and colon cancers.
Lead researcher Ross Cagan, a biology professor at Mount Sinai, based his findings on studies of the effects of diet and insulin resistance on cancer progression in fruit flies, but said the results have significant implications for people.
Cagan explained that cells use glucose for energy and to grow. When a cell becomes insulin resistant, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cell, leading to metabolic diseases like diabetes.
"Previous research has established a strong correlation between metabolic diseases and pancreatic, breast, liver, and colon cancers, but we have not determined how tumors grow so aggressively in this environment if they do not have the energy provided by glucose," said Cagan. "Using our fruit fly model, we discovered how tumors overcome insulin resistance in the body and turn metabolic dysfunction to their advantage."
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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