Fructose Associated with Growth of Pancreatic Cancer Cells

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In a study that appeared in the August 1 issue of Cancer Research, a peer-reviewed journal, researchers reported that pancreatic cancer cells use sugar fructose to activate a cellular pathway that drives cell division and helps the cancer cells grow more quickly. They stated “In this study, we show that cancer cells can use fructose just as readily as glucose to fuel their growth.”

The researchers used pancreatic cells from patients and cultured and grew them in petri dishes. Then they added glucose to one set of cells and fructose to another. They were able to determine what the sugars were being used for by following the carbon-labeled sugars in the cells using mass spectrometry. They found that even though the glucose and fructose sugars are similar in structure they were metabolized in very different ways. The pancreatic cancer cells used the fructose in the transketolase-driven non-oxidative pentose phoshate pathway to generate nucleic acids that are the building blocks of RNA and DNA needed by the cancer cells to divide and proliferate.

The researchers quoted an article that stated between 1970 and 1990 the consumption of fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increased over 1,000 percent in the United States. It is added to foods and beverages and is the sole sweetener used in American soft drinks. They believe there should be a federal effort to reduce the use of fructose in the United States.

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