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Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

Al Barry/Getty Images

Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

Different types of foods have been linked to cancer, including saturated fats and processed meats. Now, scientists say sugar can fuel the disease, too. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from universities in Belgium recently conducted a nine-year experiment, published in Nature Communications, that revealed how sugar stimulates the growth of tumors. 

They explained that healthy cells receive energy through aerobic respiration, a process that transforms digested food into energy molecules. To complete the process, oxygen is required so that carbon dioxide can be released.

>> Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

On the other hand, cancerous cells get energy from fermenting sugar, which causes tumor growth. This is called the Warburg effect.

For the study, they examined the correlation between “the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness” by observing the sugar fermentation of yeast, which is similar to that of cells. They both “share the unusual characteristic of favoring fermentation of sugar over respiration,” the study read.

The scientists not only confirmed that sugar causes tumors to grow, but that it also makes cells multiply faster. They believe the sugar produces more of the most common cancer-causing genes, also known as Ras proteins, which fuel aggressive tumors. 

>> Related: Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

“Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences,” co-author Johan Thevelein said in a statement

While the researchers do not understand why the cells react this way to sugar, they think their findings can help treat cancer with low-sugar diets. 

“This research in yeast and human cells has led to a new very valuable scientific hypothesis,” the authors wrote. “The next step is to find out whether these results also apply to patients.”

Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women under 60 years old are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. In fact, data from 2015 showed black women had a 39 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

>> Read more trending news

New research from Emory University, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points to differences in health insurance as the culprit.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from the National Cancer Data Base on 563,497 black and white women between the ages of 18 and 64 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer between 2004 and 2013.

The researchers examined five factors for the study:

  • Demographics (age, stage, state, year of diagnosis, etc.)
  • Comorbidities (other health conditions)
  • Insurance (lack of insurance, private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.)
  • Tumor characteristics (size, type, stage, etc.)
  • Treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, etc.)

The findings

They found that insurance explained one-third of the additional risk of death among the black women compared to white women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Additionally, almost three times as many black women (22.7 percent) were either uninsured or had Medicaid insurance compared to white women (8.4 percent).

“Lack of insurance is a barrier to receipt of timely and high-quality treatment and screening services,” study authors wrote.

Other major factors that explained the differences: tumor characteristics (23.2 percent), comorbidities (11.3 percent) and treatment (4.8 percent).

Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study had the most common type of breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer) and according to the researchers, when matched for factors such as insurance, comorbidity and others, those factors accounted for a combined 76.3 percent of the total excess risk of death in black patients.

The authors noted that when it came to treatment differences, black and white women contrasted most for hormone therapy, which, according to ACS, is typically used after surgery to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

“Several studies reported that black women are less likely to complete chemotherapy and hormone therapy,” study author Ahmedin Jemal told the ACS. “This could be for many reasons, including problems with transportation or the inability to pay for medicine.”

Additionally, previous research has shown that black women get lower quality mammograms and are less likely to have a follow-up appointment after receiving abnormal mammograms.

And insurance is vital for both high-quality cancer care and for early detection.

“We know so much about cancer prevention and control,” Jemal, who is also vice president of the ACS surveillance and health services research program, said. “But we’re not applying it to the whole population equally. We have to make the standard of care available to everyone, including people with low income. And blacks are disproportionately represented in that group.”

Read the full study at ascopubs.org

Learn more about the study and more about how women can protect themselves from breast cancer at cancer.org


            Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, has died

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP File

Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, has died

Gord Downie, who made himself part of Canada's national identity with songs about hockey and small towns as lead singer and songwriter of iconic rock band The Tragically Hip, has died at age 53 after a battle with brain cancer.

A statement on the band's website said he died Tuesday night "with his beloved children and family close by." The statement did not give a cause of death, though he had been diagnosed earlier with brain cancer.

Since The Tragically Hip's first album in 1987, the band has provided a soundtrack for the lives of many Canadians. "Ahead by a Century" and "Bobcaygeon" are among the best known.

While Canadian musicians Drake, the Weeknd and Justin Bieber have made waves internationally, the Tragically Hip built a huge following of die-hard homegrown fans.

An emotional Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wept in Parliament while talking about Downie on national television in a statement to reporters.

"We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it. We all knew it was coming but we hoped it wasn't," said Trudeau, his voice breaking. "I thought I was going to make it through this but I'm not. It hurts. "

Trudeau also said in a written statement that "Downie uncovered and told the stories of Canada. He was the frontman of one of Canada's most iconic bands, a rock star, artist, and poet whose evocative lyrics came to define a country."

"He loved every hidden corner, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life. And he wanted to make it better," Trudeau said in Ottawa.

Downie was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable brain cancer, in December 2015. When the band made the news public the following May, expressions of sorrow poured in from across the country.

That same day, the band said it would mount a Canadian tour despite Downie's cancer. Tickets for the 2016 summer tour sold out almost immediately, culminating in a national broadcast of the band's final tour stop at Kingston, Ontario. Millions tuned in.

Downie later said that he needed six teleprompters during the concert series so he would not forget lyrics. But through it all, Downie remained the consummate showman, rocking out on stage in distinctive leather suits.

"Gord knew this day was coming — his response was to spend his precious time as he always had — making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss ... on the lips," the Downie family said in a statement.

During his final show, Downie called out to Trudeau, who attended the concert, to help fix problems in Canada's aboriginal communities.

A few months after that concert, Downie released a solo album with an accompanying graphic novel and animated film inspired by the tragedy of state-funded church schools that Canadian aboriginal children were forced to attend from the 19th century until the 1970s. He said his "Secret Path" project was aimed at Canada's decades-long government policy of requiring aboriginal children to attend residential schools, where physical and sexual abuse was often rampant.

Born in Amherstview, Ontario, Downie said he "always had a keen ear for music" and while all the other kids were spending their allowance on baseball trading cards, he was buying records "from the fathers of rock 'n' roll."

While at university, he met Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fray, and they formed The Tragically Hip, which started out as a cover band.

Their first self-titled EP was released in 1987 and their breakthrough debut full-length album, "Up to Here," was released in 1989. Since then they have released 14 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 14 Juno awards, the equivalent of the Grammy in Canada.

The band's 2012 album, "Now for Plan A," was lyrically influenced by Downie's wife and her successful battle with breast cancer.

 Downie also produced three solo albums since 2001, as well as a collaboration with fellow Canadian indie darlings The Sadies. 

In Kingston, where he grew up, fans left flowers and lined up to sign a book condolences while his music played in the town square in front of city hall.

Fan Ted Nesbitt, who lives north of Toronto, said he wanted to be in Kingston to pay tribute to him and say thank you. In the square — where thousands gathered on Aug. 20, 2016, to watch a public screening of the band's sold-out final concert — a collection of flowers and candles surrounded a commemorative stone for the band.

"He is Canada. To me it's the cottage, the camp fire. There are so many memories listening to Hip songs," Nesbitt said. "It's a piece of your life that's gone. I'm 49 and the Hip has been a part of my life since I was a teenager."

Downie is survived by his wife and four children.

___

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies reported this story in Kingston and AP writer Charmaine Noronha reported from Toronto.

Join B98.5 for Get Up Atlanta

Join Us for GET UP Atlanta

   

B98.5 Supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month 

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and B98.5 is partnering with Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta for GET UP Atlanta!   

Visit KomenAtlanta.org to get more info, sign up to pledge 8 hours of physical activity in October, then record your hours of exercise and share your progress. 

Why 8? Everyday in Atlanta, 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and one will die. Puts things into perspective, don’t you think?

Friends and family are invited to sponsor or become involved in the fitness program themselves, which has an entry fee of $35. 

The challenge runs through the month of October and has a goal to raise $40,000 for Komen Atlanta. 

Every day in Atlanta, seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and one will die. 

Komen Atlanta works to educate the community about the importance of early detection and provides thousands of free breast health services each year to ensure that every woman has access to everything she needs to detect and survive breast cancer.    

On October 23, a special celebration will be held at the Monday Night Brewing Garage located at 933 Lee St. SW. Entry to the celebration is free for Get Up Atlanta participants and $30 for non-participants.