Sunday, December 20, 2009

Low calorie diet can cut cancer risk

Foodies, beware! Cancer could be just around the corner if you don’t watch not only what you put in your mouth but also how much.

Being a small eater can help you live longer, show studies on fruit flies and animals. But a new study finds it can also help you avoid malignancies and even heart disease.

Researchers from University of Alabama grew precancerous lung cells in a laboratory and then exposed the cells to glucose, a common component of human diet. The team varied the level of exposure of the cells to glucose. Theresearchers then grew the cells for a few weeks.

After some time, they noticed that healthy lung cells that were exposed to lower levels of glucose lived longer than those to normal levels.

The precancerous cells died in large numbers when their glucose exposure was limited.

The researchers speculate that this is because lower glucose levels decrease the activity of enzyme telomerase, which is involved in division of cells, and increased that of P16, a protein that suppresses tumour formation.

Trygve Tollefsbol, lead author of the study, said, “We were able to track the cells’ ability to divide while also monitoring the number of surviving cells. The pattern that was revealed to us showed that restricted glucose levels led the healthy cells to grow longer than is typical and caused theprecancerous cells to die off in large numbers. These results further verify the potential health benefits of controlling calorie intake.”

In a report in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the researchers wrote, “Collectively, these results provide new insights into the gene mechanisms of a nutrient control strategy that may contribute to cancer therapy as well as anti-aging approaches.”

Moral of the story – exercise may keep your weight down despite binges on calorie bombs. But to ditch the big C, start counting the small C’s.


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