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Cancer cells loot glucose from healthy cells to grow, research says

A study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, states that leukemia cells take glucose from healthy corporal cells to feed their own growth. Researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Centre conducted the study. They looked at how the tumor (leukemia) cells rob normal cells and get their energy by consuming glucose. Moreover, the research shows that tumor cells consume more of the sugar for their abnormal growth.

Leukemia is a type of cancer in the blood. Cancer, of any kind, is a life-threatening disease. This is because tumors have the ability to spread within the living body.

The respective research shows that tumors grow and spread by acquiring energy in the form of glucose. The cancer cells stimulate a condition similar to diabetes. Here the healthy cells are unable to receive glucose, leaving more for the cancer cells to consume.

Dr. Craig Jordan, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, states that cancer cells steal glucose, from normal cells, to drive their own growth

Cancer and diabetes are related

Diabetes and cancer, both are characterized by the inefficiency of the healthy cells to receive glucose. Diabetes is caused by two basic reasons,

  • The inability of the pancreas to make enough insulin
  • The inability of the corporal cells and tissues to respond to the insulin produced

Insulin processes glucose into energy. Anyone of the two reasons of diabetes leaves your body starved for energy while glucose builds up in the blood. Moreover, our fat cells produce a protein named “IGFBP1” that makes healthy corporal cells less receptive to insulin.

Tumors like leukemia start by having fat cells that overproduce IGFBP1. High amounts of this protein create an environment similar to insulin resistance. When cells don’t respond to insulin, the blood glucose level rises, providing the tumor cells to consume it and grow.

The researchers of the study state that this could be the possible reason for the growing rate of cancer in obese people. The presence of fat cells increases the production of IGFBP1, making glucose available for cancer cells.

Cancer affects your gut microbiota

In addition, Jordan and his team had found noteworthy differences between the gut microbiota in healthy mice and mice with leukemia. In particular, the mice with leukemia lacked a specific kind of bacteria called “bacteroids.” These bacteria are crucial for the production of short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs. These short chain fatty acids improve the overall gut health.

A gut lacking in SCFAs becomes compromised since it can’t help with reducing blood glucose. This allows tumorous cells to destroy proteins that are responsible for insulin production, keeping the level of glucose higher than the normal or usual.

In this way, both insulin production and sensitivity are targeted by cancerous cells. They leave healthy cells starved and feed themselves with an abundant supply of glucose for energy. This why the patients suffering from cancer experience Cachexia. It is a condition where a person loses weight and wastes away.

Concluding the whole story we have that leukemia brings with it systemic changes that rob healthy cells of their energy, allowing the cancer cells to spread at an alarming rate.

The researchers declared it a classic parasite trick. Where the cancer cells take advantage of something the host does and subvert it for their own purposes.

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan has studied bio-medical sciences and loves to contribute her research into the field of health through her writing. Her expertise includes product reviews and health news reporting but she enjoys writing research-based news, the most. Twitter- @MichelleKwan19

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