Unraveling the Link Between Diet, Diabetes & Cancer Risk

by Ella

The intricate interplay between dietary habits, metabolic conditions like diabetes, and the heightened risk of cancer has long perplexed researchers. However, a recent study conducted jointly by scientists from Singapore and the UK has shed light on a previously unidentified mechanism that links disruptions in glucose metabolism to an increased susceptibility to cancer.

Revealing Insights from the Study

Utilizing a combination of mouse models, human tissue samples, and in vitro-produced human breast organoids, researchers uncovered a startling revelation. They found that disturbances in glucose metabolism may inadvertently foster cancer growth by transiently deactivating the BRCA2 gene, a crucial guardian against tumorigenesis.


Lead author of the study, Cancer pharmacologist Li Ren Kong from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore), emphasized the significance of these findings in elucidating the complex relationship between diet, metabolic health, and cancer risk. He highlighted the pivotal role of diet and weight management in mitigating cancer risks, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and proactive measures.


“We embarked on this study with the aim of unraveling the factors contributing to cancer susceptibility in high-risk families. However, our research led us to uncover a deeper mechanism linking disruptions in essential energy consumption pathways to the development of cancer,” Kong explained.


Challenging Established Notions

Furthermore, the study challenges conventional wisdom regarding cancer-protective genes, particularly the BRCA2 gene. Recent investigations have revealed that mutations in one of the two BRCA2 genes within a cell are associated with various cancers. Intriguingly, mice and human cells harboring this mutation do not exhibit typical signs of genetic instability observed in cells with both copies of the gene altered.


While having only one functional copy of BRCA2 in mice does not significantly impede organ development or DNA repair in most tissues, cells with this mutation exhibit heightened susceptibility to environmental stressors such as formaldehyde or acetaldehyde exposure, which can compromise BRCA2 protein levels and functionality.

Unveiling the Mechanism

Delving deeper, researchers examined individuals inheriting one defective copy of BRCA2. They observed that these individuals’ cells displayed increased vulnerability to methylglyoxal (MGO), a byproduct of glucose breakdown during glycolysis for energy production.

Remarkably, MGO was found to transiently inhibit the tumor-suppressive abilities of the BRCA2 protein, paving the way for cancer-associated mutations. This novel insight suggests that alterations in glucose metabolism can influence BRCA2 function via MGO, thereby contributing to cancer initiation and progression.

Implications and Future Directions

The implications of this groundbreaking research are far-reaching, offering potential avenues for cancer prevention and early detection strategies. By unraveling the intricate interplay between diet, metabolic health, and cancer risk, researchers hope to pave the way for innovative approaches to mitigate cancer susceptibility and enhance overall well-being.

In conclusion, this study represents a significant milestone in understanding the complex mechanisms underpinning cancer development. As scientists continue to delve deeper into these intricate connections, there is optimism that such insights will ultimately translate into tangible benefits for cancer prevention and treatment strategies.



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