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Sugar may boost risk of breast cancer

The high amounts of sugar in Western diets may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer by activating cancer cell production enzymes and fats, according to new rodent research.

The super-sweet Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer, and the metastasis of that cancer to the lungs, according to new research conducted on mice.

Previous epidemiological studies have shown that dietary sugar intake impacts on breast cancer development, through a process that probably includes inflammation. Research has also suggested that women who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages have a much greater risk—as much as 78 percent greater than women who don’t chug the sweet stuff—of developing endometrial cancer.

"We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors,” co-author Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center said in a university release. 12-HETE is a fatty acid related to an enzymatic signaling pathway. The study’s authors believe that dietary sugar launches the acid and the enzymes into breast cancer production mode.

The researchers conducted four different studies in which they randomly assigned mice to one of four diets. At six months of age, 30 percent of mice on a starch-control diet had measurable tumors, whereas 50 to 58 percent of the mice on sucrose-enriched diets had developed mammary tumors.

The study also showed that numbers of lung metastases were significantly higher in mice on a sucrose- or a fructose-enriched diet, versus mice on a starch-control diet.

The study was published in the online issue of Cancer Research and noted by

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