Sugar is being increasingly depicted as a poison by science. A new study suggests that high sugar consumption can increase the risk of developing breast cancer and can even accelerate the spread of the disease to the lungs. The paper has been published in the journal Cancer Research.
Peiying Yang, assistant professor from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and his team aimed at studying the direct effects of sugar intake on the development of breast cancer. They used animal models and also analysed the mechanisms behind the association in the models.
They randomly subjected mice to different diets, such as a sucrose-enriched diet, a fructose-enriched diet and a starch-control diet. The quantity of sucrose and fructose consumed was similar to what is normally found in typical Western diets.
The results show that mice having consumed the sugar diets had greater risk of developing breast cancer as opposed to those feeding on the starch-control diets; 30 % of the latter had developed tumours while as much as 50-58% mice feeding on the sucrose-rich diets had the cancer.
Furthermore, those consuming sugar-diets had many more tumours in the lungs than the starch group. The researchers explain that a high sugar intake might possibly increase the rate of breast cancer metastasis.
When the researchers looked into the mechanisms, they discovered that dietary fructose and sucrose would enhance certain signalling pathways (12-lipoxygenase (12-LOX) signaling) that increase the production of compounds (12-HETE) that, in turn, increase the risk of both the development of breast cancer and its metastasis.
Lorenzo Cohen, one of the authors, says that this might be indicating a “possible signalling pathway” that accounts for “sugar-promoted tumour growth in mice”.
“We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors,” writes Cohen.
The team of authors highlights that their findings constitute further evidence that dietary sugar intake has a role in breast cancer development.