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Link between metabolism and cancer found

A link between disruptions in a person’s metabolism and a fatal form of lymphoma has been discovered. 

Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Centre claim to have found direct correlation between how our cells produce energy during metabolism and a common cancer of the blood. 

Metabolism refers to all chemical reactions in cells and organisms and is linked to nutrition and the availability of nutrients to the body. 

Lymphoma is the cancer of the lymphatic system – vital to both the circulatory and immune systems.

 

Links between metabolism and cancer

Many studies have proposed a connection between metabolism and cancer for a while, but few have been able to prove it, says senior author, Ricardo C.T. Aguiar, associate professor of haematology-oncology. 

He says his research team has now discovered a metabolic imbalance that is ‘pro-cancer’. 

The researchers found a specific gene is mutated in a type of cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

This genetic mutation causes cells to become deficient in a metabolite, a substance produced during metabolism that is key in providing healthy cells. 

Dr Aguiar says when levels of this metabolite are abnormally low, certain enzymes fail to function as they should, causing a number of ‘additional disturbances’. 

He also discovered the metabolite is critical in regulating aging and stem cell maintenance.  He believes, therefore, the findings of this study will not be limited to cancer biology. The findings were published in the journal, Nature Communications.

What is lymphoma?

It is a cancer that attacks the body’s lymph nodes. These are oval-shaped organs distributed throughout the body. 

They filter out foreign particles and cancer cells as part of our immune system. 

Lymphoma is broken into two types:

 

  • Hodgkin lymphoma: Accounts for 20% of lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: 80% of lymphoma are non-Hodgkin

 

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK with around 11,500 people in the UK diagnosed every year.

 

For more information about our cancer services click here


 

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