Researchers have discovered a mechanism that explains how reducing sugar can cause cancer cells to die. The study, which was published in the online journal Science Signaling, presented a novel cell death pathway through introducing how depriving cancer cells of sugar can trigger a reaction that causes them to die.
- This research builds on earlier scientific literature that indicates that cancer cells that quickly multiply need higher levels of sugar than normal cells.
- In the study, researchers found out that in certain cancer cells, the presence of low levels of sugar that are insufficient for providing energy may be used as a method to enhance the survivability of the cells.
- They also found out that when cancer cells are deprived of sugar, this causes a reaction across the cancer cell membrane and leads to an increased intake of calcium ions into the cells, which causes them to die ultimately.
Tumor cells thrive on all sugars
The American Heart Association, for example, says too much sugar of any kind will not only bust your belt but increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
And a number of states, including New York and California, have considered levying a tax on sugary sodas to help pay for patients suffering from obesity-related diseases and who are covered under government health insurance programs. But these taxes have been successfully opposed, for the most part, with the help of millions of dollars in lobbying money from interest groups who say sugar is sugar.
Heaney’s team found otherwise, Reuters reported. During trials, they grew pancreatic cancer cells and fed them both glucose and fructose.
The tumor cells thrived on both kinds of sugars but proliferated with fructose.
“Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different,” the team wrote.
“I think this paper has a lot of public health implications. Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back on the amount of high fructose corn syrup in our diets,” Heaney said in a statement.
Consumption of high fructose grew rapidly in the U.S. – by 1,000 percent – between 1970 and 1990, about the time the obesity epidemic began in earnest.
Lee HY, Itahana Y, Schuechner S, Fukuda M, Je HS, Ogris E, Virshup DM, Itahana K. CA2-DEPENDENT DEMETHYLATION OF PHOSPHATASE PP2AC PROMOTES GLUCOSE DEPRIVATION-INDUCED CELL DEATH INDEPENDENTLY OF INHIBITING GLYCOLYSIS. Science Signaling. 2018;11(512). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.aam7893