When people think about cancer, and what may cause it, many people tend to think sugar is one of the main drivers of the deadly disease.
And they wouldn’t be wrong.
Research shows that many forms of sugar are the perfect food for accelerating cancer’s growth.
But new research shows there may be a certain kind of sugar that is helpful in the fight against cancer.
It’s called mannose, or D-mannose in supplemental form.
Most people aren’t familiar with mannose because even though it’s found in many fruits, it’s found in much lower levels than the more abundant fruit-sugar, fructose.
Fortunately, mannose has been isolated in supplemental form, and researchers have tested it against the formation of cancer cells with promising results.
Mannose Can Help Fight Cancer?
The reason scientists wanted to see how mannose affect cancer growth is because the human body needs sugar to complete basic metabolic tasks.
Glucose is the most common form of sugar used for these tasks.
Unfortunately, cancer feeds off of glucose.
Because our body absolutely needs glucose, we can’t remove it from our diet. But the double-edged truth is by putting into our bodies we’re providing fuel for cancer’s growth.
Scientists wanted to see what happens when glucose was replaced with mannose.
The team on this project realized mannose would still fuel basic metabolic processes but might starve cancer.
Medical News Today wrote about the research a team at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute did to see how mannose affected cancer growth.
“ To investigate its potential use against cancer, the scientists added it to the drinking water of mice with pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, or lung cancer.
They saw that the mice experienced no ill effects, and that tumor growth was significantly slowed. Prof. Ryan is excited about the results. ‘In our study, we found a dosage of mannose that could block enough glucose to slow tumor growth in mice, but not so much that normal tissues were affected.’
Next, the team wanted to investigate whether mannose supplementation might impact how cancer treatment worked. The researchers carried out a similar experiment to the first, but in this case, they also treated the mice with two common chemotherapy agents: cisplatin and doxorubicin.
Again, mannose made a positive difference when compared with mice that took chemotherapy drugs but no mannose: it enhanced the impact of chemotherapy, reduced tumor size, and increased lifespan.
There were some caveats to this study. Caveats that were strong enough that the researchers said more animal studies would be needed before they could recommend it as an intervention in cancer treatment.
In the lab, they added mannose directly to several different kinds of cancer cells (leukemia, ovarian cancer, and bowel cancer) to see what would happen to them,
In some cases, the cancer cells would halt growth, in other instance no effect was observed.
The one thing they concluded based on their observations was when cancer cells had had lower levels of phosphomannose isomerase in them there was a possible future growth may have been affected.
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.”