Blocking Sugar Intake May Reduce Cancer Risk In Diabetics

shutterstock_146888669Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine found out that blocking dietary sugar and its activity in tumor cells might reduce cancer risk and progression. The study provides some insight as to how certain metabolic-related conditions such as diabetes and obesity are linked to certain types of cancers. The results of the said study were published in the journal Cell.

Medical experts have long known about the association between metabolic diseases with breast, liver, colon and pancreatic cancers. But researchers are not entirely clear on how tumor cells can grow so rapidly in an environment where glucose fails to provide cells with energy and instead spill into the blood stream.

Cells use glucose as a primary source of energy to grow. However, when cells become insulin resistant, the glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cell. This process starves the cell, further developing into metabolic diseases such as diabetes. It remains a puzzle among researchers how tumor growth can thrive in this type of glucose-deprived environment.

The research team, headed by Ross Sagan, PhD, Professor of Development and Regenerative Biology at Mount Sinai, developed a cancer model the fruit fly Drosophila in order to explore the effects of diet and insulin resistance on tumor growth and cancer progression.

The researchers engineered the fruit flies to express two important oncogenes called Ras and Src, which results in the development of small head tumors. The researchers then fed the fruit flies with a high sugar diet to promote insulin resistance. They found out that the high sugar diet worked together with Ras and Src in order to increase insulin sensitivity in the tumor cells. This was done by increasing the signaling of an important pathway called Wingless/Wnt. This led to an increase in the insulin receptors in tumor cells that improved its insulin sensitivity. The following activities changed the weak tumors and caused them to start growing aggressively.

Based on the three new drug targets found based on their discovery, the researchers went on to identify certain compounds that can block different processes. They processed a cocktail of compounds that blocked the sugar conversion to glucose, cut of the expression of Ras and Src and inhibited Wingless/Wnt signaling. The cocktail of drugs was effective in substantially reducing the tumor growth and progression.

According to Dr. Cagan, “Our study shows that sugar activates oncogenes in the tumor, which then promote insulin sensitivity, meaning that the exorbitant glucose levels in the blood pour into the tumor, having nowhere else to go in the insulin-resistant body.”

“We have identified a three-drug combination that stops this signaling activity and tumor growth in its tracks, without affecting normal cell function,” he further added.

Source: Medical News Today


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