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Sugar feeds cancer, makes it ‘untreatable’

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*Tumour cells killed off with diabetes drug, early life exercise cuts woman’s risk of dying from disease by 13%

Scientists have finally identified how sugar feeds cancer in a new research paper, which has been hailed as a “breakthrough”.The study, published Tuesday, explains why cancer cells rapidly break down sugars without producing much energy – a phenomenon discovered in 1920, dubbed the “Warburg effect”.

Until now, it hasn’t been clear whether the effect was a symptom of cancer, or a cause.But a nine-year joint research project conducted by a coalition of Dutch universities has shown that sugar naturally connects with a gene called “ras’, which is essential to each cancer cell’s ability to survive.

This connection traps cancer so forcefully that cells are powerless to expel it, creating a ‘vicious cycle’ that stimulates the cancer and persistently metabolizes the sugar.

The finding published in Nature Communications could have implications for cancer patients’ diets, and for non-sufferers it sheds further light on the dangers of sugar.

Also, scientists may have found an innovative way to kill off cancer cells in acute myeloid leukaemia, all the while preserving and regenerating healthy red blood cells.

The new study was carried out by researchers from the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Mick Bhatia — a professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University and director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute — led the investigation, and the findings have been published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

As the scientists explain, conventional methods for treating leukemia focus on targeting leukemic cells, paying little attention to preserving red blood cells.

But the production of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow is crucial for preventing leukemia patients from having anemia or fatal infections.

First study author Allison Boyd — a postdoctoral fellow at the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute — says, “Our approach represents a different way of looking at leukemia and considers the entire bone marrow as an ecosystem, rather than the traditional approach of studying and trying to directly kill the diseased cells themselves.”

“These traditional approaches have not delivered enough new therapeutic options for patients,” she continues. “The standard-of-care for this disease hasn’t changed in several decades.”

Also, a study claims that women who were active as teenagers cut their risk of dying from cancer by 13 percent.The amount women exercised and played sports when they were young was compared to their health when they were 40 to 70 years old.

Researchers found that those who consistently exercised reduced their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer by 20 percent.
They recommend for further research to develop on the mechanisms of these diseases and how exercise can make an impact in preventing them in order to decrease people’s risk of developing one.

Playing sports and exercising consistently during adolescence can reduce the risk of dying from disease such as cancer and heart problems. Researchers studied more than 74,000 women and how much they exercised when they were teenagers. Researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, analyzed the health of 74,941 women aged 40 to 70 in China.

The women were interviewed about their activeness during high school and in their middle age. These results were compared to their current health and other socioeconomic factors.

The findings, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found that those who participated in regular exercise were less likely to develop cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.

Regular exercise was defined as happening at least once a week for a continuation of three months.Researchers also charted how many hours a week each woman exercised when they were teenagers and for how long that behavior continued into their life.

Participants were interviewed every two to three years to see if their exercise habits and health changed. Women who participated in team sports and exercised regularly during their adolescent years reduced their risk of death from all diseases by 20 percent.

They were also 13 percent less likely to die from cancer and 17 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.“Our results support the importance of promoting exercise participation in adolescence to reduce mortality in later life and highlight the critical need for the initiation of disease prevention early in life,” said Sarah Nechuta, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, to Futurity.

The 2008 Physical Guidelines of America recommends people to workout an average of two-and-a-half hours per week to stay healthy.There have been several studies of obesity and how it can impact mortality rates among people.

But the researchers said this is one of the first studies that analyzes how exercise can have an impact on certain diseases. They said it is important to study the mechanisms of these diseases to determine how exercise can prevent them from occurring.


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