Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lactic Acid May Affect Cancer Development, According to a New Study

Just in time for another round of disempowering nonsense, telling us all that cancer is caused by "bad luck", a new study appears that may help to vindicate the Warburg effect. At the beginning of the 20th century, the German scientist Otto Warburg found that cancer cells have a higher demand for sugar than normal cells. They are more reliant on glycolysis than healthy cells, which is far less efficient at turning sugar into cellular energy than aerobic (oxygen-dependent) respiration. All cells use glycolysis as the first stage in energy production (Principles of Anatomy and Physiology - Tortora and Derrickson, 2012), but in the presence of oxygen a healthy cell will then use the breakdown products of glycolysis to begin aerobic respiration. Without oxygen, these breakdown products will enter the Cori Cycle to produce lactic acid, or lactate. A buildup of lactic acid in the muscles causes them to become tired and stiff; you may notice this during intense exercise. Warburg found that even in the presence of oxygen, cancer cells seem to produce more lactic acid than healthy cells.

Source: Steve Barnes (CC BY-SA: 2.0)
In this new research led by Inigo San Millan, director of the Sports Performance Department and physiology laboratory at the University of Colorado-Boulder's Sports Medicine and Performance Center, he and his team set out to understand why the Warburg effect happens. They found that common changes to gene expression, found in most cancers, also seem to deregulate lactic acid production. The researchers also explain that lactic acid helps to create an acidic environment outside the cancer cells, which helps them to spread around the body. In fact, San Millan and colleagues suggest that lactic acid is the "only metabolic compound involved and necessary" in the five stages of cancer development after carcinogenesis, the transformation of healthy cells into cancerous ones. It could also help to explain why regular exercise helps to prevent cancer. Regular workouts help to train the body to efficiently recycle lactic acid into something that actually can be used for energy, which prevents harmful accumulation (why you eventually grow accustomed to that workout). High sugar intake combined with a sedentary lifestyle may be even worse for cancer risk. It may also explain why regular exercise has been shown to increase cancer survival rates.

This research may lead to therapies that reduce the accumulation of lactic acid, in order to prevent cancer cells from spreading and avoiding the immune system. Although the effects of improved stress management on immunity are a likely factor, it could also help explain why living in the greenest spaces has been linked to a 13% lower risk of cancer death compared to living in an urban jungle. This Harvard University study on 110,000 women also found a 12% higher risk of all-cause mortality among the urban jungle dwellers. Overall, any evidence that can point to methods of natural cancer prevention is a good thing, and hopefully the health industries will stand up and take notice of these findings.


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