leuven - A large Flemish research team has been working for nine years on a study with remarkable results: sugar causes tumors to grow and aggravates cancer. 'A sugar-free diet is for a cancer patient, therefore no unnecessary luxury,' says Professor Johan Thevelein in Het Nieuwsblad.
The team of the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB), Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the KU Leuven studied the so-called Warburg effect, named after the famous scientist Otto Heinrich Warburg who, despite his Jewish background, was not prosecuted by the Nazis because Adolf Hitler hoped for him. Hitler's mother had cancer, and he feared himself.
Warburg won a Nobel Prize in 1931, but his legacy showed many lagoons. 'He discovered that cancer cells accelerate sugar into lactic acid,' says VIB researchers against Het Nieuwsblad. Healthy cells do exactly the opposite. 'The more aggressive the cancer, the faster these cells convert the sugar. But why they did that and whether that Warburg effect is merely a symptom of the cancer, or does it affect it, we did not know. We wanted to find that. '
During the investigation, scientists first examined yeast cells, where a remarkable conversion of substances takes place. Human cancer cells were subsequently investigated, and sugar was converted into fructose 1.6-biophosphate, which then activates a protein, after which the cells multiply.
And that's a breakthrough, which will soon be read in Nature Communications. 'A sugar-free or low-sugar diet is not just a hype, but it's really something to be used in cancer patients,' says Professor Thevelein in Het Nieuwsblad. 'It can help overcome cancer and make chemotherapy much more effective. Especially because patients sometimes receive serums to strengthen. And that contain a lot of glucose. '