A New Connection Between Sugar and Cancer

170601-sugarThere is a persistent myth that sugar causes cancer (or increases its spread).  The truth is that all cells use sugar (glucose) for energy, whether they are cancerous or non-cancerous.  The bigger danger is that too much sugar will make you overweight, putting you at a higher risk for many diseases.

But now, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have found a link between sugar and a specific type of cancer.

More than 80 percent of all human lung cancers are NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer).  The majority of NSCLCs are one of two types: ADC (adenocarcinoma) and SqCC (squamous cell carcinoma).  Until now, scientists thought the metabolic signatures for these two cancer types were similar.

Instead, the researchers found that SqCC needs a lot more sugar to grow and spread.  GLUT1, a protein responsible for transporting glucose, was present in significantly higher levels in SqCC than in ADC.  And when mice were given GLUT1 inhibitors, SqCC cells diminished, while ADC cells did not.

SqCC accounts for about 25 percent of all lung cancers, and has been difficult to treat with targeted therapies.  The researchers hope that their work will lead to new forms of treatment.

The study used a Seahorse (now part of Agilent) XFp Analyzer to measure cellular activities, including extracellular acidification and oxygen consumption rates.

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