Sugar and cancer may have a connection, according to a new study conducted by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
, which found that the amount of sweets in the normal Western diet could increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs.
In a statement released Thursday by the university
, the study authors said their findings showed sugar's effect on an "enzymatic signaling pathway" called 12-LOX, or 12-lipoxygenase.
"We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet," Dr. Peiying Yang, study coauthor, said.
Lorenzo Cohen, another of the study's coauthors, said in the university's statement that the research examined how dietary sugar intake impacted mammary gland tumor development in mouse models.
"We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors," Cohen said.
The Houston Chronicle reported that researchers fed mice
bred to have a high risk of breast cancer one of four diets. Scientists found that, after six months, more than half of mice on diets with sugar levels comparable to that of the average Western diet had developed breast tumors.
Less than a third of the mice on a starch-based diet developed the breast tumors, according to the Chronicle. Researchers found that mice that were fed a diet high in two forms of sugar, sucrose or fructose, also had a higher risk of the cancer spreading to their lungs.
"Prior research has examined the role of sugar, especially glucose, and energy-based metabolic pathways in cancer development," Yang told the Houston Chronicle. "However, the inflammatory cascade may be an alternative route of studying sugar-driven carcinogenesis that warrants further study."
The study appears to support past findings that showed pancreatic tumors also spiked on fructose, according to NBC News.
"It seems that fructose is driving this inflammatory process more than glucose," Cohen said told the news site. "It seems from these series of experiments that it really fructose that within the sucrose that is the driver of the tumorigenic process."
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