If you become a vegan, you can switch off tumor-nourishing proteins, a new study suggests – but experts warn that preventing cancer is not as easy as changing your diet.
Experiments in mice found that the removal of the amino acid methionine – found in poultry, red meat and fish – from their food stopped the growth of tumors.
What's more, it has also made chemotherapy and radiation medication more effective.
And when healthy people stopped eating the food, scientists saw signs of metabolism changes that could also help prevent tumors.
But experts warn that studies on diets to prevent cancer should be taken with a pinch of salt.
& # 39; Again, this is a study in mice that has almost no implications for the treatment of human cancer & # 39 ;, said Dr. Paul Pharoah, a professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge.
A new study in mice suggests that a vegan diet can starve tumors by cutting a cancer-nourishing tumor out of meat – but experts are very skeptical
Cancers have no cause or treatment whatsoever – so it is extremely unlikely that a single lifestyle change can completely stop tumor growth.
But laboratory research helps scientists understand how variations in diet, habits, gender, genetics, and more can influence cancer development, how aggressive the disease is, and what changes may be useful to delay it.
In laboratory tests at Duke University on drug-resistant colon cancers of real patients, methionine restriction led them to respond to the drugs.
Petri dish studies had previously shown that when the protein methionine is present, healthy cells can still thrive, but cancer cells die of hunger.
Dr. Jason Locasale, a cancer biologist at Duke University, and his team tested this in mice with inoculated human tumor samples.
When they saw that the tumors in the mice stopped growing, they decided to perform a preliminary test in humans by placing a small group on a limited diet to limit their methionine intake.
said: & # 39; In humans, lowering methionine levels in the diet had a similar effect on metabolism as in mice.
& # 39; This may indicate a conserved response between humans and mice to dietary restrictions of this amino acid.
& # 39; These findings provide evidence that targeted nutritional manipulation may specifically affect tumor cell metabolism to mediate broad aspects of cancer outcome. & # 39;
In the preliminary study, six middle-aged people received a diet low in methionine for three weeks – corresponding to a 83 percent reduction in daily intake.
The participants – five women and a man aged 49 to 58 – consumed a methionine-free drink and foods such as fruit, vegetables, and refined grains.
At the end, metabolites in their blood correlated with those observed in mice with the same dietary limitation.
In the series of cancer models in mice, restriction of methionine resulted in inhibition of tumor growth.
When used in combination with the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil, or radiation therapy, the spread was also stopped.
It gives new light on the link between cancer and poor metabolism. Fat almost acts like an organ – interacting with other parts of the body.
It actually transmits signals that play a crucial role in regulating metabolism, the immune system and other functions.
If we become overweight or obese, the normal functioning of the body can become unbalanced by too many signals of fat.
Methionine is an essential amino acid that the body cannot produce – and plays a crucial role in metabolism.
It is metabolized as part of a group of reactions that include & # 39; one-carbon metabolism & # 39; – which are also the target of a number of anticancer medicines.
But it was unclear whether specific nutritional interventions could influence these, Prof. Locasale said.
He said: & although cancer has a substantial metabolic component, the principles that determine whether nutrition can be used to influence cancer outcomes are unclear.
Niet It has nevertheless been established that it focuses on metabolic pathways with pharmacological agents or radiation can sometimes lead to controlled therapeutic outcomes.
& # 39; In contrast, it is not known whether specific nutritional interventions can influence the metabolic pathways targeted by standard cancer therapies. & # 39;
Forty years ago, a milestone was published in which it was first demonstrated that cancer is absolutely dependent on methionine.
Normal cells thrive in a petri dish – but without the amino acid, cancerous cells die. Fresh tumors from patients also depend on methionine.
These include those of the colon, breast, ovary, prostate, and skin. Pharmaceutical companies are working on drugs that lower methionine levels.
But because methionine comes primarily from food, a better strategy is to remove them from the diet.
Less methionine food includes fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and beans – in other words, a trendy vegan diet popular with celebrities.
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