Sugar and cancer: Is there a link?

(CNN)  Does sugar, which makes all things delicious, lead to cancer?

A biologic mechanism in yeast cells may explain the relationship between sugar and malignant tumors, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.
The nine-year research project may even influence personal medicine and diets for cancer patients, the authors concluded. The study begins by looking closely at cancer cells’ appetite for sugar.

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In the paper, published online Friday in the journal Nature Communications, the authors report that a “reciprocal” interaction between ras and the identified sugar molecule “may lock cancer cells in a vicious cycle causing both persistent stimulation of cell proliferation and continued maintenance of overactive glycolysis. This would explain the close correlation between the proliferation rate and aggressive character of cancer cells and their fermentation hyperactivity.”

It’s a “vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth,” said one of the study’s senior authors, Johan Thevelein, in a follow-up press statement—an interaction that seems to “explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness.”

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Is there a link between sugar and cancer?

The answer, based on the most recent research, seems to be … yes, but more research is needed.  This article on the Mother Nature Network (www.mnn.com) covers the issue pretty well, simplifying a very complex subject and turning it into something we can all digest.

Dr. Stacy Kennedy of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute addresses the subject with similar uncertainty.

“One of the most common questions we hear from our patients is, ‘does sugar feed cancer?’ As with most nutrition research, the answer to this seemingly simple question is actually quite complex,” she writes.

“Overall, most of the research in sugar and cancer uses data from preliminary studies with animal and test tube data to draw conclusions. Recent research has looked at the details of an individual’s diet and sugar intake and how it may affect cancer risk or survivorship outcomes, but there have not been any randomized, controlled trials showing that sugar causes cancer.”

But new research may have cracked the link.

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