Scientists just discovered the link between Cancer and sugar in a recent study published by "Nature Communications." Researchers took a closer look at the way cancerous cells break down sugar. They found that this process is linked to tumor growth. When cancer cells start the breakdown process of sugar, this stimulates growth in the already present tumor. Professor Johan Thevelein, from VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology in Belgium, authored the study.

The Warburg effect

Cancer cells are mutated cells that produce energy quite differently from normal, healthy cells.

Normal cells use a process known as respiration to produce energy. Cancerous cells produce energy by using a process of fermentation of glucose into lactate.

Cells need sugar in order to survive. Cancer cells require a lot more sugar because they metabolize it much faster than normal cells. This is known as the Warburg effect. The increased metabolic rate of cancer cells left scientists wondering if this contributed to how fast tumors can grow.

Thevelein explained that consuming sugar leads to "vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth." The study showed that there is a direct link between the Warburg effect and the rate at which cancerous tumors grow.

The research

The findings do not indicate that sugar causes cancer. The results show that sugar directly contributes to tumor stimulation and growth due to the Warburg effect.

During their research, scientists used yeast as a model organism. The researchers chose to use yeast because it also uses a fermentation process to produce energy from sugar.

Yeast also contains "Ras proteins" that are also found in cancerous cells.

Ras proteins are very important in the life of a cell. They control the growth rate of the cell. If a mutation in the genes of the cell occurs, the Ras proteins become active permanently. This results in rapid, uncontrolled cellular growth and proliferation.

By using yeast in this experiment, scientists were able to take a closer look at the correlation between high sugar metabolism and Ras proteins.

By using yeast instead of mammalian cells for this study, scientists were able to pinpoint the energy producing process. The findings may result in changes in the future of cancer research. In the future, researchers will begin looking at whether or not the metabolic rate of processing sugar by cancerous cells can be interrupted.