Love to eat a sugar rich diet? Beware, it may fuel various forms of cancer by giving them the much needed energy to multiply, researchers say. The researchers found that one type of cancer called as squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) — found in lung, head and neck, esophageal and cervical — is heavily dependent on sugar.
“It has been suspected that many cancer cells are heavily dependent on sugar as their energy supply, but it turns out that one specific type — squamous cell carcinoma — is remarkably more dependent,” said Jung-whan Kim, assistant professor at the University of Texas. Further, SqCC was also found to have highly active levels of a protein called glucose transporter 1, or GLUT1, responsible for transporting glucose into cells where the sugar provides a fundamental energy source and fuels cell metabolism.
“As a culture, we are very addicted to sugar. Excessive sugar consumption is not only a problem that can lead to complications like diabetes, but also, the evidence is mounting that some cancers are also highly dependent on sugar,” Kim rued. For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the team investigated differences in metabolism between two major subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer — adenocarcinoma (ADC) and SqCC.
The researchers investigated the effect of a GLUT1 inhibitor in human lung tissue, isolated lung cancer cells and mice with both types of non-small cell lung cancer.When GLUT1 inhibitors was given to mice with lung cancer, the squamous cancer diminished, but not the adenocarcinoma.
“There was not a complete eradication, but tumour growth slowed,” Kim said. “Overall, our findings indicate that GLUT1 could be a potential target for new lines of drug therapy, especially for SqCC,” he suggested.