Fructose vs. Glucose: The Effect of Sugars on Cancer Cells

All sugars are not the same when it comes to cancer cells, according to a newly published study by Dr. Anthony Heaney, endocrinologist and neuroendocrine tumor specialist, and his colleagues at UCLA.  The study found that fructose caused pancreatic tumor cells to divide and proliferate.

Neuroendocrine tumor specialist Anthony Heaney, MD of UCLA

Dr. Anthony Heaney, Director of the Pituitary and Neuroendocrine Program at UCLA

Dr. Heaney’s team grew pancreatic cancer cells in lab dishes and fed them both glucose and fructose. While thriving on sugar, tumor cells used the fructose to multiply. “Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different,” wrote Dr. Heaney’s team. Their findings, published in the August 1, 2010 issue of Cancer Research, may shed new light on other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest types of cancer.

These findings “ . . . have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth,” explained Dr. Heaney and colleagues.

An excess of sugar in one’s diet causes weight gain and is also a key factor in diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Americans consume large amounts of fructose, mainly in high fructose corn syrup found in sodas, bread, and many other foods.  In a 2004 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers noted U.S. consumption of high fructose corn syrup increased 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990.

Dr. Heaney and his team now hope to develop a drug that could potentially stop tumor cells from making use of fructose.

Cancer Research journal and study by neuroendocrine tumor specialist Anthony Heaney, MD and UCLA colleagues

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