Study: Sugar makes cancer cells more aggressive and stimulates tumor growth

Study: Sugar makes cancer cells more aggressive and stimulates tumor growth

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Doctors are studying the effects of sugar on cancer development

Researchers have now found that sugar has a major impact on cancer cells and tumors. For example, the sugar causes the tumors to become more aggressive and stimulates tumor growth.

A team of scientists from the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (VU) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) found in their investigation that the so-called Warburg effect (a phenomenon in which cancer cells break down sugar quickly) ) leads to stimulated tumor growth. The experts published the results of their study in the journal "Nature Communications".

Nine years of research lead to an interesting finding

In a nine-year period of research, the team of medical doctors observed that sugar stimulates the growth of cancerous tumors. According to the experts, this finding is a decisive breakthrough in cancer research. The scientists examined the so-called Warburg effect and its effects on the growth of tumors.

Warburg effect: a cause of cancer or just a symptom?

The new results provide evidence of a positive correlation between sugar and cancer, say the experts. This finding could have far-reaching implications for cancer patient nutrition plans in the future. The focus of the research projects was on the Warburg effect and the observation that tumors convert significantly higher amounts of sugar into lactate compared to our healthy tissue. This phenomenon has been extensively studied as one of the most outstanding features of cancer cells. The effect can even be used to detect brain tumors, for example. So far, however, it has remained unclear whether the determined effect is only a symptom of cancer or possibly a cause, the authors explain.

Sugar consumption by cancer cells triggers a vicious cycle

Previous research on cancer cell metabolism aimed at assigning metabolic peculiarities. The current study shows the relationship between a metabolic abnormality and the so-called oncogenic potency in cancer cells. The results of the research show how hyperactive sugar consumption by cancer cells leads to a true vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth, explains author Dr. Johan Thevelein. This explains the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and the aggressiveness of the tumor.

It becomes clear that the link between sugar and cancer has far-reaching consequences, says Dr. Thevelein continues. The results provide a basis for future research in this area, which can now be carried out with a much more precise focus, adds the expert.

What was the special importance of yeast in the investigation?

Yeast cells were essential for the discovery of medical professionals, since these cells contain the same Ras proteins that are usually found in tumor cells. With the help of yeast as a model organism, the researchers investigated the connection between Ras activity and the highly active sugar metabolism in yeast. "The main advantage of using yeast was that our research was not affected by the additional regulatory mechanisms of mammalian cells, which can overlap important underlying processes," said author Thevelein. (as)

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