Study: Sugar consumption makes cancer cells multiply faster
Research conducted by microbiologists and molecular biologists at three institutions in Belgium highlights the relationship between sugar and cancer cells.
The new study, conducted in yeast cells, was published on Friday in Nature, and showed evidence for “a positive correlation between sugar and cancer, which may have far-reaching impacts on tailor-made diets for cancer patients,” as one of the study’s authors wrote in a press release.
All human cells can metabolize sugar in order to run — it’s one of the most basic “foods” of our body’s constituent pieces. And yet, the way in which cancer cells process sugar appears to be different from the ways that the rest of our cells process sugar, as this study illustrates. “Tumors convert significantly higher amounts of sugar into lactate compared to healthy tissues,” wrote Johan Thevelein, a molecular biologist and one of the authors of the study.
The study indicates that sugar consumption may increase the “multiplication” of cancer cells. This does not mean that sugar causes cancer; to the contrary, merely that cancer, once it exists in the body, is affected differently by sugar consumption. “Some people are interpreting that we have found a mechanism for how sugar causes cancer, but that is certainly not the case,” Thevelein told Newsweek.
The study suggests that eating a low-sugar diet could be beneficial to cancer patients, but Thevelein insisted that “his work does not mean that eating a low-sugar diet before a cancer diagnosis might lower a person’s risk,” as he was quoted as saying in Newsweek.
“What we have demonstrated is that the enhanced breakdown of sugar in the cancer cells stimulates cancer. But why cancer cells have a faster, enhanced breakdown of sugar compared to normal cells—this is still a mystery.”