London- In a new scientific breakthrough, a team of researchers from Dutch and Belgian universities said they have finally determined the role of sugar in stimulating the growth of cancer and its tumors. Nine years of research showed that cancer cells rapidly break down sugars, and stimulate tumor growth.
Till this date, scientists have sought to narrow down the mechanism whereby cancer cells metabolize sugar without producing energy. This phenomenon is called the “Warburg effect” discovered by German Scientist Otto Warburg.
Scientists said that sugar is naturally linked to ‘Ras’ proteins, commonly found in tumor cells, which is a vital gene that no cancer cell can survive without. This link is so strong that cancer tumors are not allowed to emerge from the healthy tissue containing tumors.
Experts believe that the results of the study published in the “Nature Communications” journal will change the dietary guidelines for cancer patients and highlight the risk of sugar consumption on other healthy individuals.
Prof. of molecular biology Johan Thevelein from KU Leuven University in Belgium said: “Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth.”
In the 1920s, Otto Warburg discovered the phenomenon in which these tissues convert huge amounts of sugar into lactate products, which are milky materials, compared to healthy tissues.
To study this phenomenon, scientists examined the yeast containing the “Ras” protein. “We observed in yeast that sugar degradation is linked via the intermediate fructose (a type of sugar) to the activation of Ras proteins, which stimulate the multiplication of both yeast and cancer cells,” explained Thevelein.