A new study has pointed the finger at high levels of sugar directly implicated as the leading cause of cancer.
The study published in the Journal of Molecular Cell revealed a key mechanism that links obesity and diabetes with cancer: high sugar levels, which increase activity of a gene widely implicated in cancer progression. The study specified that the ability of the intestinal cells to secrete GIP is controlled by a protein called β-catenin, and that the activity of β-catenin is strictly dependent on sugar levels.
Increased activity of β-catenin is known to be a major factor in the development of many cancers and can make normal cells immortal, a key step in early stages of cancer progression. The study demonstrates that high (but not normal) sugar levels induce nuclear accumulation of β-catenin and leads to cell proliferation. The changes induced on β-catenin, the molecules involved and the diversity of cancer cells susceptible to these changes were identified.
Dr. Custodia García said “We were surprised to realize that changes in our metabolism caused by dietary sugar impact on our cancer risk. We are now investigating what other dietary components may influence our cancer risk. Changing diet is one of easiest prevention strategies that can potentially save a lot of suffering and money.”
Colin Goding, Professor of Oncology at the University of Oxford, UK said ‘Previously we were unsure about how increased blood sugar found in diabetes and obesity could increase cancer risk. This study identifies a key molecular mechanism through which high blood glucose would predispose to cancer. It opens the way for potential novel therapies aimed at reducing cancer risk in the obese and diabetic populations.’
Sustained high levels of sugars as found in the diabetic population, damage cells and substantially increase the risk of developing cancer. How obesity or diabetes increase cancer risk has been a major health issue. That is, the diabetic population has up to double chances to suffer pancreatic or colon cancer among others, according to well sustained epidemiological studies. With obesity in British and Spanish children reaching 16%, the highest in Europe, this epidemic has major health implications.
More than half (63%) of premature deaths worldwide are due to non communicable diseases (NCD) of which cancer and diabetes are among the 4 causes more frequent. At least 1 in 3 of the main cancers (27-39%) can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity and body composition.
Molecular Cell, Volume 49, Issue 3, 474-486, 27 December 2012. Glucose-Induced β-Catenin Acetylation Enhances Wnt Signaling in Cancer.