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Western Diets Might Fuel Cancer’s Growth And Spread

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Diets high in sugar, like the average American diet, could not only be causing breast cancer growth, but could also be fueling the cancer metastases, according to new research.

The study, released in the journal Cancer Research, details how mice were fed different diets over the course of six months, and what those results indicated. The findings suggest that diets high in sugar, like the average American diet, could not only be fueling breast cancer growth, but could also be fueling the cancer metastases.

The University of Texas researchers gave cancer-prone mice one of four different diets and observed the development and growth of cancer in the animals. At six months old, more than half of the mice fed the sucrose-rich diet had developed breast cancer, and the mice that were fed the fructose-rich diet had cancer that was more likely to spread. Dr Peiying Yang, study co-author, points out that this study may be the first to investigate the link between sugar consumption and cancer development, and that this is a public health priority.

We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumour growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet.

Of the four types of meals given to mice, the low-sugar, high-starch diet was found to have the least effect on the cancer – at six months, only 30 percent of the mice on this diet had developed breast cancer, as opposed to the more than half of the mice on the sucrose diet.

Sucrose is made up of two different sugars, fructose and glucose. The research findings indicate that fructose, processed more by the liver, has a bigger effect on cancer growth and spread that glucose, which is process more by the pancreas. However, both sugars helped tumors grow faster.

Over the last five decades, fructose consumption in the U.S. has increased more than 100-fold. While people need sugar in their diets to survive, doctors say they shouldn’t get more than 10 percent of their calories from sugar. In addition to fueling tumor growth, diets heavy in sugar can also trigger diabetes and heart disease.

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