High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Tumor Growth

A new study shows that consuming even a modest amount of high fructose corn syrup on a daily basis accelerates the growth of tumors in the intestines of mouse models. And the findings are independent of obesity. Just 12 ounces of a sugar sweetened beverage daily feeds cancer cells, boosting their growth.

The study team also found the mechanism by which the consumption of sugar laden beverages can directly feed the growth of cancer which suggests the potential of novel therapeutic strategies. There have been more observational studies lately which have raised awareness of the link between consuming sugary beverages, colorectal cancer and obesity.

The thought has been that sugar is harmful mostly because consuming too much can lead to obesity. And obesity increases risks of many types of cancer. However, there has been uncertainty whether a casual and direct link exists between cancer and the consumption of sugar. This was the important question that led to the study conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medicine.

The team generated a mouse model of early stage cancer of the colon where APC gene is deleted. The APC gene is a gatekeeper in colorectal cancer. Deleting APC is compared to removing the breaks on a car. Without this gene, normal intestinal cells will neither stop nor die which leads to the forming of early stage tumors known as polyps. It is estimated that more than 90% of patients with colorectal cancer have this type of APC mutation.

The team tested the effect consuming sugar sweetened water had on tumor development in the mouse model with the disease. The water contained 25% high fructose corn syrup which is the main sweetener in a variety of sugary drinks people consume. This sweetener consists of glucose and fructose with a 45:55 ratio.

When the team provided the sweetened beverage in a water bottle for the APC model mice to consume at their will, they rapidly gained weight in a months time. To keep the mice from being obese and mimicking a humans daily consumption of a single can of soda, they instead gave the mice a modest amount of the sweetened water orally with a special syringe once a day. When they controlled their consumption, after two months the mice did not become obese, however they did develop tumors that were of higher grade and larger than mice who were treated with regular water.

The study results indicate that when animals have early state of tumors in their intestines, consuming even modest amounts of high fructose corn syrup in the form of liquid can boost tumor progression and growth even independently of obesity.

Further research is needed to translate the discoveries to people, however the findings in the mouse model suggest that constant consumption of sugary beverages can shorten the time for cancer to develop. With humans, it typically takes 20 to 30 years for cancer of the colon to grow from early stage benign tumors to aggressive cancers.

The research team continued their study by investigating the mechanism through which this type of sweetener promoted tumor growth. They found that the APC model mice receiving the modest quantities of high fructose corn syrup had high amounts of fructose in their colons. Sugary beverages increased the levels of glucose and fructose in the colon and blood respectively. The tumors could then efficiently take up both fructose and glucose by different routes.

By using cutting edge technologies to trace the fate of fructose and glucose in tumor tissues, the research team showed that fructose was first chemically changed and the process enabled it to efficiently promote the production of fatty acids which then contribute to tumor growth.

The findings suggested the role of fructose in tumors is to enhance glucose’s role of directing synthesis of fatty acids. This abundance of fatty acids can potentially be used by the cancer cells to form cellular membranes and signaling molecules to influence or grow inflammation.

To see whether fructose metabolism or the increased fatty acid production was responsible for the sugar induced tumor growth, the team modified the APC model mice to lack genes coding for enzymes that are involved in either fatty acid synthesis or fructose metabolism. One group of the mice lacked an enzyme KHK which is involved in the metabolism of fructose. The other group lacked enzyme FASN which is involved in fatty acid synthesis.

The team discovered that mice lacking either of these two genes did not develop large tumors unlike the APC model mice when fed the same small amounts of high fructose corn syrup.

The study showed results that colorectal cancers use high fructose corn syrup as fuel to increase rates of tumor growth. This is the major ingredient in most sugary sodas along with a variety of processed foods.

Fructose is not essential for the growth and survival of normal cells. This suggests that potential therapies targeting fructose metabolism may be worth exploring. And of course avoiding beverages and foods containing high fructose corn syrup as much as possible could significantly reduce the availability of sugar in the colon.

To view the original scientific study click below.

High-fructose corn syrup enhances intestinal tumor growth in mice.

Do Eggs and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Sobering news has just come out for those who love their omelets! A new study of nearly 30,000 people has reported that adults who consumed more dietary cholesterol and eggs showed a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death from any cause.

The study conducted by Northwestern Medicine indicates that the current U.S. dietary guideline recommendations for dietary eggs and cholesterol needs to be reevaluated. The recent study looked at data of 29,615 ethnically and racially diverse adults from six prospective cohort studies.

The diet data was collected using a questionnaire for food frequency and by getting diet history. Each participant was asked what they had eaten for the previous month or year. All data was collected with a single visit. The study had up to 31 years of follow up with a median of 17.5 years. During this time 5,400 cardiovascular events and 6,132 all causes of deaths were diagnosed.

The study results found that eating 300 mg of dietary cholesterol a day (the amount found in 2 eggs) was found to be associated with a 17% higher risk of incident cardiovascular disease and 18% higher risk of all causes of death. They found that cholesterol was the main factor independent of saturated fat and other dietary fats.

They also found that eating 3 to 4 eggs in a week was associated with a 6% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and an 8% higher risk of any cause of death. Overall diet quality, exercise and the type and amount of dietary fat did not change the association between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease and death.

The study showed that if two people consumed the same diet and the only thing different in the diet was eggs, then they could directly measure the effect eggs have on heart disease. Earlier studies found eating eggs did not raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, those studies had a less diverse sample, a shorter follow up timeline and limited ability to adjust for other parts of someones diet.

The study did have a major limitation of long term eating patterns which were not assessed. The study team had just one snapshot of what each individuals eating pattern looked like. However, they do think they represented a good estimate of a person’s dietary intake although any changes in a person’s diet couldn’t be accounted for.

Based on the new study, people should watch their dietary intake of cholesterol by keeping it low. Reducing foods that are cholesterol rich such as red meat and eggs is the recommendation. However, eggs and red meat are good sources of great nutrients such as iron, choline and amino acids so they don’t need to be banished for good. It would be wise to eat egg whites instead of whole eggs and red meat consumption kept to a minimum.

To view the original scientific study click below.

Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality.

Lack of Sleep and Aging Go Hand in Hand

New research from Oxford University has brought scientists closer to understanding the mysterious function of sleep. What the scientists have discovered is how oxidative stress leads to sleep. Oxidative stress is believed to be one of the reasons we age and is also a cause of degenerative diseases.

The study confirms just what scientists have suspected…chronic lack of sleep will shorten life. Professor Gero Miesenbock who led the team, compares oxygen tanks which carry explosion hazard labels to humans who face a similar risk when oxygen we breathe to convert food into energy leads to oxidative stress in cells. He calls this imperfectly contained combustion.

This oxidative stress is believed to be one of the causes of aging and associated degenerative diseases which hinder of later years in life. The new research shows that oxidative stress also activates neurons which control whether we go to sleep.

The research team studied sleep regulation in fruit flies which are the animals that provided the first insight into the circadian clock almost 50 years ago. Each individual fly has a special set of neurons which control sleep. In a previous study the team discovered that the sleep control neurons function like an on off switch. When the neurons are electrically active the fly will be sleeping. When the neurons are silent the fly is awake.

The team decided to look for the signals which will switch the sleep control neurons on. They knew from previous research that a major difference between waking and sleep is how much electrical current will flow through two ion channels which are called Sandman and Shaker. Most of the current will be through Shaker during sleep.

The function of ion channels is to generate and control these electrical impulses through which brain cells will communicate. This made the team of scientists think about turning the question of, why we sleep, into a solvable and concrete problem. The team then sought to discovered what causes the electrical current to go through Shaker.

The answer was found in a component of the Shaker channel. They found that suspended below the electrically conducting portion of Shaker is another component. A small molecule, NADPH, flips back and forth between the chemical states which regulates the Shaker current. In turn, the state of NADPH reflects the degree of oxidative stress the cell has experienced. Sleeplessness leads to oxidative stress and this in turn drives the chemical conversion.

In a demonstration of this mechanism, a flash of light which flipped the chemical state of NADPH put flies to sleep.

Sleep disturbances are very common and sleeping pills are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs. These medications carry a variety of side effects and risks including addiction, forgetfulness and confusion. By targeting the mechanism the team has discovered, some of the side effects could be avoided.

To view the original scientific study click below.

Sleep and Aging: Two Side of One Coin?

A Good Reason to Follow the Mediterranean Diet

New research has shown that following the Mediterranean Diet for just a period of 4 days will boost exercise performance! Which is another great reason to follow one of the healthiest diets! The research team at St. Louis University in Missouri conducted the study to see if this diet would improve exercise performance and endurance. What they found was evidence that the Mediterranean diet which is already known for good health, did boost exercise performance in the study group.

The team recruited four men and seven women who were already recreationally active. The participants were asked to follow a diet that included eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, and a moderate consumption of red wine while also avoiding processed and red meats, trans and saturated fats, refined sugars and also limiting dairy products.

Following the first four days with the participants on this predominantly plant based diet, they were asked to run 5 kilometers on a treadmill. Nine to sixteen days later the participants were asked to follow a Western diet for an additional four days and then run 5 kilometers once again. The Western diet they followed was the traditional Western diet which consists of over consumption of refined sugars, salt, and saturated fats and little intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The team additionally wanted to test the effects the two diets would have on muscle strengthening and anaerobic exercise. They asked the participants to take a vertical jump test, a cycle test and a hand grip test at the same time points throughout the study.

The study found that overall the participants were 6 percent faster in the 5 kilometer treadmill run after following the Mediterranean diet than they were following the Western diet. The improvement occurred even though the heart rates of the participants were about the same and ratings of perceived exertion were the same on both occasions. However, the different diets did not show any effect on performance with the anaerobic exercise.

A variety of individual nutrients that are found in foods in the Mediterranean diet improve performance immediately or within just a few days. However, the benefits were quickly lost when a switch was made back to the Western diet. The study provides an incentive not only for athletes but also the general population to eat a healthier diet such as the Mediterranean diet.

To view the original scientific study click below.

Short-Term Mediterranean Diet Improves Endurance Exercise Performance: A Randomized-Sequence Crossover Trial.

Ingredients in Pills Can Lead to Adverse Reactions

pillsA recent study conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that a large majority of some of the most frequently prescribed medications in the U.S. contain at least one “inactive ingredient” that could cause adverse reactions.

Inactive ingredients are added to medications to improve taste, absorption, shelf life and a variety of other characteristics of a pill. The study team found that over 90 percent of all oral medications they tested contained an ingredient which can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms and other allergic reactions in sensitive people.

The inactive ingredients include peanut oil, lactose, chemical dyes and gluten. These added ingredients present a challenge to clinicians who want to make sure they are prescribing a medication that does not cause an allergic or adverse reaction. The study actually was inspired by a real life situation where an individual with celiac disease was prescribed a medication that contained gluten.

The team collaborated with a biochemical data scientist and an internal medicine resident and others to analyze data of inactive ingredients found in 42,052 oral medications all of which contained more than 354,597 inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients are defined as any substance that is added to a pill’s formulation but are not expected or intended to have any direct therapeutic or biological effect.

Inactive ingredients have been tested for safety at population levels. However, scattered case reports have shown that inactive ingredients can cause problems for individuals with intolerances and allergies.

The team notes that the data set is complex. There are hundreds of different versions of capsules or pills that deliver the exact same medication but use a different combination of inactive ingredients. This indicates how convoluted the choices of inactive ingredients is. But it also suggests that there is an untapped opportunity to specifically choose the most appropriate version of a medication for someone with unusual sensitivities.

The research team discovered a total of 38 inactive ingredients that have been described in literature to cause adverse symptoms after oral exposure. At least 92.8 percent of medications analyzed contained at least one of these ingredients. About 45% contained lactose, about 33% contained a food dye, and about .08% contained peanut oil.

While the content of a particular inactive ingredient may be too low to lead to an adverse reaction in most people, someone with an allergy or intolerance could have a reaction. These doses may be low, however it isn’t known what the threshold is for individuals to react to them. This pushes scientists to think about precision care and the role of legislation and regulation when it comes to medication labels that contain an inactive ingredient that can cause adverse reactions.

To view the original scientific study click below.

“Inactive” ingredients in oral medications