Can too much sugar cause cancer?

While the body needs sugar for quick energy, too much can wreak havoc on your health.

And for diabetics, the dangers are becoming even more serious, as a recent study found that excess sugar can cause cell damage and an increased risk for cancer.

Sugar and the intestines

Researchers at the University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid have found that higher sugar levels increase the activity of a gene that is commonly associated with cancer.

The connection was made after the research team studied how intestinal cells respond to sugar and therefore signal insulin release from the pancreas. A hormone called GIP is released by the intestine in response to sugar, which is controlled by a protein called B-catenin. This protein's activity is strictly related to sugar levels.

Cancer progression

The study found that abnormally high sugar levels cause the accumulation of B-catenin and, ultimately, cell proliferation--the foundation for cancer.

"We were surprised to realize that changes in our metabolism caused by dietary sugar impact on our cancer risk," said Dr. Custodia Garcia, lead researcher of the study.

Garcia says they are now looking into what other dietary-related factors might increase the risk for cancer, and he notes that changing one's diet is one of the easiest ways to prevent diabetes and the costs associated with it.

Colin Goding, Professor of Oncology at the University of Oxford, says that this study clears the path for new cancer prevention treatments for at-risk populations.

"It opens the way for potential novel therapies aimed at reducing cancer risk in the obese and diabetic populations," Goding noted.

Source: Science Daily

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