Belgian scientists have made a research breakthrough and discovered a clear connection between sugar and the development of cancer cells
The team of researchers found that yeast with high levels of sugar overstimulated the same proteins that are found inside human tumors, making cells grow faster. The discovery was published in Nature Communications on Friday, and aims to shed light on how cancer develops.
Johan Thevelein, Wim Versées and Veerle Janssens first started researching the sugar’s link to cancer back in 2008 in order to better understand the Warburg effect, which is when tumor cells create energy through a rapid breakdown of glucose that is not seen in normal cells. The energy produced fuels tumor growth.
The research “is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness,” Thevelein said.
“This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus.”
Even though it is a very important finding, it is not a medical breakthrough. Moreover, it does not prove that eating a low-sugar diet could change a cancer diagnosis.
“The findings are not sufficient to identify the primary cause of the Warburg effect,” Thevelein said in a release. “Further research is needed to find out whether this primary cause is also conserved in yeast cells.”
Victoria Stevens, cancer researcher, was not part of the study but said that the research is great. However, she added that it comments only on “about one product made during the breakdown of glucose to produce energy.”
“They are providing a potential way (the Warburg effect) could be a cause of cancer, but they are a long way away from saying this could actually happen,” Stevens said.