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Mannose Could Aid In Cancer Treatment

A group of scientists have discovered that mannose, a sugar found in cranberries and other fruits, may have the potential to slow the advancement of certain cancers and improve treatment.

The study was done in mice with pancreatic, lung and skin cancer. The mice were given mannose which reduced the growth of their tumours with no evident side effects.

Although scientists plan to start testing the supplement on people, they have advised patients not to use it because there might be a risk of side effects.

During the study to determine the effects of mannose on cancer treatment, mice that had been treated with cisplatin and doxorubicin and it was discovered that it improved the effects of chemotherapy and reduced the size of tumours.

Further tests were carried out in which leukaemia, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), ovarian and bowel cancer were exposed to mannose in the laboratory. There were improvements in some cells while in some others no significant improvement was recorded.

Cranberries. Photo: Oregonian recipes

The response was based on the levels of an enzyme that breaks down mannose present.

Lead author Prof Kevin Ryan, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said his team had found a dosage of mannose that “could block enough glucose to slow tumour growth in mice but not so much that normal tissues were affected”.

The human body needs glucose for energy but it is the source of growth for cancerous tumours.

“This is early research but it is hoped that finding this perfect balance means that, in the future, mannose could be given to cancer patients to enhance chemotherapy without damaging their overall health,” he said.

Manose is cheaper than drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies but experts have warned that cancer patients should not use it as a supplement because of the recent findings.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head nurse, said: “Although these results are very promising for the future of some cancer treatments, this is very early research and has not yet been tested in humans.

“Patients should not self-prescribe mannose, as there is a real risk of negative side-effects that haven’t been tested for yet.

“It’s important to consult with a doctor before drastically changing your diet or taking new supplements.”

Prof Ryan said that his team of researchers will carry out further investigations to determine why mannose worked in some cells to determine the best patients to be given.

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