It allows cancer cells to evade the immune system
Normally, healthy cells extract energy from carbohydrates and fats to aerobically (in the presence of oxygen) create cellular energy, or ATP. The Warburg Effect explains that tumors produce more ATP from aerobic glycolysis, fermenting carbohydrates to produce lactic acid.
This is unique because unlike healthy cells, which choose to ferment carbohydrates only when oxygen is limited, aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells involves high levels of fermentation even when oxygen is abundant. Warburg observed that cancer cells tend to convert most glucose to lactate regardless of whether oxygen is present (2).
Lactate produced by these cancer cells is then used as a signaling molecule to help the tumor (3):
- evade tumor suppressor proteins
- avoid apoptosis
- invade other tissues
These findings apply specifically to breast, lung, colon, and brain cancers.
The Warburg Effect also explains why cancer cells are so resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapies. Many of these treatments target normal cellular respiration (metabolism) and thus tumor cells may be able to survive chemotherapy because they are not affected by these treatments as much (4).
Read: How to Strengthen Your Immune System After Covid
Stronger mitochondria for better cellular health
Healthy cellular metabolism depends on the robust function of mitochondria, which are the energy powerhouses of each cell. Mitochondria are also involved in regulating apoptosis, or programmed cell death, which is a good thing in terms of getting rid of potentially cancerous cells.
When mitochondria function becomes dysregulated, tumor cells can develop, continuing to grow and divide.
Related: The Coenzyme You Need to Fight Signs of Aging
Reducing your risk with a low-sugar diet
Although research isn’t able to confirm that sugar feeds cancer cells, eating excessive high sugar foods can contribute to an increased risk of obesity and blood sugar imbalances, which are risk factors for cancer.
Reducing your intake of sugary foods can also promote healthy mitochondria function, which is essential for cellular health.
In a large review of 73 meta-analyses (which included 8,601 studies) excessive intake of sugary foods was associated with significantly higher risks of 45 serious health problems, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, depression, early death, and—not surprisingly—cancer (5).
Eating foods with excess sugar can lead to the body producing more insulin and insulin-like growth factors, which are linked to increased cancer risk (6). A diet that is lower in added sugar reduces your body’s production of these hormones, thereby decreasing your risk.
Boost mitochondria function to promote cellular health
Certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help to protect normal mitochondrial function. Regular consumption of these supplements can normalize cell signaling pathways and ultimately help to support cellular health:
- Vitamin C
- Coenzyme Q10
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid
These micronutrients interact with each other in the body to assist in normal cellular metabolism.
Regular physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast and colorectal cancers.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also important as they provide essential vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system and protect cells from DNA damage.
Limiting exposure to known environmental toxins, alcohol, and tobacco can also help reduce your cancer risk.
By making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Eating a low-sugar diet and choosing activities that support mitochondria health helps keep your body healthy and lower your risk. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, start making small changes today and enjoy the benefits in the future!