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A group of researchers at the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center gained a deeper understanding of the untold love story between sugar and cancer and decided to share it with us.
Scientists noted that their mouse study might explain why added sugar promotes tumor growth. Their findings are consistent with a plethora of past studies that had shown a link between high sugar consumption and an elevated risk of developing cancer.
According to Lorenzo Cohen, co-author of the study, the new research suggests that what you eat after a cancer diagnosis is equally important to what you ate before you developed the disease.
Past research had shown that risk of cancer is higher when at least three risk factors are involved: unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, and smoking. Especially the Western Diet which is rich in processed meats, fats, and added sugar was found to promote cancer.
The recent study showed that there is a significant link between added sugar and cancer risk. The research team found that fructose, a sugar substitute extracted from various plants, creates a good environment for cancer cells to reproduce and spread, or metastasize.
Cohen explained most cancer patients do not lose the battle against the disease because of their original tumor. They die when the cancer reaches an advanced stage and metastasizes.
Mouse experiments showed that cancer patients who consume a lot of sugar have a higher risk of developing advanced cancer than patients who have a healthier diet. Although mouse studies may have their limitations, Cohen’s team ensured that the body processes of the laboratory animals were similar to those observed in human patients.
Experiments showed that large intakes of added sugar fuel especially breast cancer. During their study, researchers fed mice large quantities of sugar that are very similar to the amount in the daily diet of average Americans. Plus, they used only mice with a high risk of developing breast cancer because of their genes.
Additionally, the team experimented with several types of sugars and starch. The study results showed that starch was not as harmful as sugar in promoting cancer growth. Of the mice on a starch-rich diet only 30 percent developed cancer, while more than half of those on diets rich in fructose and sucrose, also known as table sugar, developed breast tumors.
Scientists explained that both fructose and glucose in table sugar promote bodily inflammatory processes which boost the risk of cancer. But fructose was by far the most dangerous.
A research paper on the findings was published recently in Cancer Research.
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