Treatment for Mesothelioma and Other Cancers May Benefit from Use of Special Sugar

Malignant mesothelioma and other forms of cancer require glucose, the simple sugar we source from carbohydrates, to fuel their growth. Now researchers from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute have found that by dosing cancer with a different type of sugar it can interrupt glucose’s ability to feed the tumors, slowing cancer’s growth without impacting the surrounding health tissue’s ability to get the energy it needs.

Sugar from Cranberries Can Slow Tumor Growth

Though healthcare professionals are hoping that the discovery will eventually benefit those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other serious cancers, for now the scientists have limited their study to mice with lung cancer, skin cancer and pancreatic cancer. They supplemented the animals with mannose, a sugar found in cranberries and other fruits and found that it both slowed the growth of tumors and also enhanced the effect of chemotherapy. This combination of benefits makes the sugar a high interest item for those working to cure aggressive cancers like mesothelioma, particularly since one of the chemotherapy drugs it was tested against was cisplatin, which is frequently used to treat patients with the asbestos-related cancer. Mice that received chemotherapy along with cisplatin experienced reduced tumor sizes and increased life spans.

Testing on Humans is Next Step

Though the studies of the impact of mannose were positive on the whole, there were some cancer cells that did not respond well to the treatment, and researchers indicate that the difference had to do with the presence of an enzyme within the cells that is responsible for breaking down mannose. It is not clear whether mesothelioma cancer cells contain this enzyme, and this is something that researchers will need to study further. Speaking of the findings, the scientists were guardedly optimistic, saying, “This is early research but it is hoped that finding this perfect balance means that, in the future, mannose could be given to cancer patients to enhance chemotherapy without damaging their overall health.” They also warned that though mannose is available in health food stores, those diagnosed with cancer should not pursue their own supplementation with the sugar, as no human tests have been done yet and it is not clear what the impact would be. “Patients should not self-prescribe mannose, as there is a real risk of negative side-effects that haven’t been tested for yet. It’s important to consult with a doctor before drastically changing your diet or taking new supplements.”

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you need information on nutrition or other breakthroughs in its treatment, contact the Patient Advocates at today to learn more. We can be reached at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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