9-year study ties sugar consumption to increased risk of cancer

Clinicians around the world will stand by the fact that consuming excess sugar will diminish overall health.

Now, a nearly decade-long study conducted by three Belgian scientists and recently published in Nature Communications presents further evidence of such a connection.

Conclusively, this study has given further insight into how a sugar-heavy diet contributes to the rapid growth of tumors and cancer development.

"Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth," said Johan M. Thevelein, lead author of the study and a molecular biologist and professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, in a statement.

Cancer cells consume excess amounts of sugar for energy, and as a bi-product produce glucose and then lactic acid, fueling tumor growth. This process, also known as the Warburg Effect, was the focus of the study.

For nine years, the researchers observed how yeast consumes and processes sugar to understand how Ras proteins are activated. They found that excess sugar may cause tumors to produce overactive, fast-growing mutated Ras proteins.

Ras proteins are present in all animals, controlling the body's cell activation and differentiation. By observing these proteins, Thevelein's team could better understand how cancer cells metabolize sugars we eat in carbohydrates, fruits, and processed sugars.

“We observed in yeast that sugar degradation is linked via the intermediate fructose 1,6-biophosphate to the activation of Ras proteins, which stimulate the multiplication of both yeast and cancer cells. It is striking that this mechanism has been conserved throughout the long evolution of yeast cell to human," Thevelein said in a statement.

Read the entire study in Nature Communications for further methods and results.