Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A good reason to cut out sugar

study recently came out looking at the effect of sugar (glucose) on human cells. They found that glucose changes the activity of telomerase (the enzyme we’re looking at in our study). Telomerase keeps chromosomes long and helps cells live indefinitely, which we want in healthy cells, but do NOT want in cancer cells.

The study looked at both healthy lung cells and precancerous lung cells. They split the cells into two groups: One group received a normal amount of glucose, the other group received lower than normal amounts of sugar.

Results: The healthy cells exposed to lower levels of glucose lived longer, while the precancerous cells exposed to lower levels of glucose died off.

Two genes were affected by the restriction of glucose:
1) Telomerase: allows cells to continue to live and divide indefinitely
2) p16: an anti-cancer protein

The genes acted differently in healthy cells and precancerous cells:
Healthy cells: Rise in telomerase and decrease in p16 --> cells live longer.
Precancerous cells: Decrease in telomerase and increase in p16 --> cells die off.

Conclusion: A glucose-restricted diet may help human cells live longer and free of cancer.

Tollefsbol, one of the authors of the study, said:
"These results further verify the potential health benefits of controlling calorie intake… Our research indicates that calorie reduction extends the lifespan of healthy human cells and aids the body's natural ability to kill off cancer-forming cells… Human longevity can be achieved at the cellular level through caloric restriction.”
They talk about caloric restriction but the study looked at glucose levels. I’m wondering if this has more implications for sugar consumption and the resulting spikes and troughs of blood glucose. Diabetics, for example, who have high levels of blood glucose, suffer from end-organ damage, coronary artery disease, and atherosclerosis, all of which have been associated with telomere shortening.

So… as I’m working on my 2010 resolutions this week, cutting out sugar is definitely on there!

1 comment:

  1. That was a fascinating report on sugar. Both the sugar and candy lobbies are excessively powerful in this country. Sugar agriculture in Florida is one of the main causes of pollution and ecological destruction in the Florida Everglades. Even more reasons to reduce our sugar consumption!