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New Study Shows Sugar Consumption is Related to Cancer

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IMAGE COLLAGE BY SANDY ARANAS
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It’s a sad day for sugar junkies.

Researchers have discovered a groundbreaking connection between sugar consumption and its relation to tumor growth. A recently published online study by Nature Communications has gathered evidence to support the belief that high-sugar diets increase the chances of developing a tumor because of the way cancer cells process sugar. The study affirms the truth behind the Warburg effect, a phenomenon that explains how cancer cells rely on the energy process called aerobic glycolysis. This type of energy production transforms glucose into lactate. The Warburg effect sheds light on how cancer cells break down sugars more aggressively than regular cells, and thus produce more lactose, which has been known to stimulate tumor growth. It remains unclear, however, whether the effect is a symptom or the cause of cancer.

Belgian professor Johan Thuvelein, one of the researchers, explains that “the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences.”

The research took nine years to complete. The methods included the observation of bacteria and yeast growth and Ras activation. Ras, which is mentioned throughout the study, is a “regulator or cell proliferation in yeast and mammalian cells” present in animals. Ras is also a crucial component in signaling networks that control cell growth or survival. Yeast, on the other hand, was essential in the methodology since yeast cells share the same Ras proteins that are usually found in tumor cells. The 14 researchers observed how the Ras activity and active sugar metabolism in yeast multiplied and how these two were related. The study, which is considered a “breakthrough,” has helped scientists and oncologists further understand cancer and the stimulation of tumor growth. You may access the full study here.

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While this is one valuable step in the research for cancer and tumors, it is merely theoretical and its application on human beings has yet to be tested. Clinical trials with oncologists are the next step. Only after the results are in should the diets of cancer patients be adjusted accordingly.

In the past, sugar consumption in dietary patterns has already been linked to risks of cancer. A 2016 study in the Cancer Research journal supported the claims that those with higher sugar intakes have a greater risk of cancer, specifically breast cancer. Meanwhile, other studies report that at least two-thirds of cancer cases are due to poor lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet, little or no exercise, and excessive smoking.

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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