While most efforts to curb junk food consumption at the beginning of the year are tied to weight loss goals, a new study could be providing yet another reason: a link to breast cancer. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, with the results published in the journal Cancer Research. Groups of mice were given different diets in order to see what, if any, effect diet had on the size of cancerous tumors.
"We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet," senior author Peiying Yang explained in a news release.
The mechanism that the researchers believe is responsible for promoting tumor growth in these mice is the 12-lipoxygenase pathway, which plays a role in cell growth. It is believed that sugar acts on this pathway, promoting the inflammation that is favorable for tumor growth.
"The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved," added co-author Lorenzo Cohen. "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."
The implications of this study could be huge, as annual sugar consumption continues to grow every year. Diets high in sugar have already been linked to other health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
"Prior research has examined the role of sugar, especially glucose, and energy-based metabolic pathways in cancer development," Yang continued. "However, the inflammatory cascade may be an alternative route of studying sugar-driven carcinogenesis that warrants further study."
There is still plenty of research to do in order to understand how sucrose affects the growth of tumors and if there need to be dietary recommendations in order to reflect this link.
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