A group of Belgian scientists have made a breakthrough in proving the direct relationship between cancer and sugar. They found that sugar ‘awakens’ cancerous cells and makes tumors already present in the body more aggressive.
Their findings, which will be published in the scientific magazine Nature Communications later this week, show how cancer develops thanks to the stimulus of sugar.
Their research proves what is called ‘the Warburg effect’ in cancerous cells in the body.
The Warburg effect states that sick cells will become stimulated to develop further (and multiply faster) once glucose intake (which is heightened by the consumption of sugar) reaches beyond a threshold point.
The extensive document they present "is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness," Dr Thevelein, the lead scientist from the Royal University in Leuven, Belgium, stated.
"This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus. The findings are not sufficient to identify the primary cause of the Warburg effect. Further research is needed to find out whether this primary cause is also conserved in yeast cells."
However US scientists such as Ms Victoria Stevens, a researcher associated to the American Cancer Society state that the research is a good lead but not conclusive as it comments only on "about one product made during the breakdown of glucose to produce energy. They are providing a potential way (the Warburg effect) could be a cause of cancer, but they are a long way away from saying this could actually happen," Ms Stevens said.
According to her, proving the Warburg effect can be linked to sugar intake is a first step in a long process.