Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fructose induces nucleic acid synthesis in pancreatic cancer cells

A quick read of an article summarized in the mainstream media suggests that at least some cancer cells metabolize glucose and fructose differently. This defies the conventional wisdom that, metabolically speaking, these sugars are interchangeable. While fructose fed cancer cells do not have increased proliferation, the study suggests fructose is used more readily for nucleic acid synthesis. Glucose in the same cells is used primarily for energy resulting in lactate and CO2 production. Additionally another recent article demonstrates that breast cancer cells exhibit a more aggressive phenotype when using fructose as a carbon source. As the Reuters article suggests, this may be of public health significance as consumption of free fructose has increased 10 fold between 1970 and 1990.Link


Kamel said...

Interesting. I haven't had a chance to look at the actual paper but in the Reuters piece the author says "These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation", which is the opposite of what you say above and what Orac points out in his lengthy analysis. Is this just a case of an over-hyped press release?

Rob said...

Just read the lengthy analysis. I don't think the article was worth so much analysis actually, and I think we have covered how bad press releases can be. I just thought it was interesting simply because it was unexpected and suggestive. With our depth of understanding of metabolism it seems like fructose metabolism would be an attractive target for thearpies and suggests some follow up in vivo studies. I didn't mean to strongly suggest that fructose causes cancer but it is certainly an area that needs to be more thoroughly investigated since we apparently don't understand cancer metabolism as well as at least I thought we did.