A food ingredient that most of us consume every day can cause cancer to spread in the body, according to a new study.
As most are aware, food can have a major impact on cancer with fatty acids being the building blocks of fat in the body.
The Express reports that new research suggests that palm oil is one of the main causes of the increase in cancer cases.
Read more:Dog owners have warned of potentially deadly white blocks washing on a Welsh beach
The popular but controversial substance has been linked to changes in the cancer genome – the complex set of genetic material that makes up cells.
A latest study published in the journal Nature made a shocking discovery linking dietary fat and the spread of cancer.
The study – partly funded by the UK charity Worldwide Cancer Research – found palmitic acid significantly increases the likelihood that cancer will spread.
The discovery has left researchers fighting for new therapy to help disrupt this process in the hope that it could stop the spread of cancer at a time when diagnoses are rising at alarming rates.
Metastasis – or the spread – of cancer remains the leading cause of death in cancer patients and the vast majority of people with metastatic cancer can only be treated, but not cured.
Unfortunately, metastasis is often promoted by fatty acids in their diet further warning that what you put in your mouth can have a devastating health effect.
… and Wales Matters delivers the best of WalesOnline’s coverage of politics, health, education, current affairs and local democracy directly to your inbox.
Now more than ever this kind of journalism is important and we want you to be able to access everything in one place with one click. It’s completely free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
To subscribe, click here, enter your email address and follow the simple instructions.
Recently published findings – led by researchers at IRB Barcelona, Spain – reveal that one such fatty acid commonly found in palm oil, called palmitic acid, promotes metastasis in oral carcinomas and melanoma skin cancer in mice.
“There is something very special about palmitic acid that makes it an extremely potent initiator of metastasis,” said Prof Salvador Aznar-Benitah, of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Barcelona.
“I think it’s too early to determine what type of diet could be consumed by patients with metastatic cancer that would slow down the metastatic process.”
The study suggested that exposure to palmitic acid caused changes in the function of genes in cancer cells that allowed them to sense fatty acids and consume them more efficiently.
The presence of palmitic acid also appeared to send cancer cells into a “regenerative state” allowing them to form signal networks beyond the tumor, which can be a crucial step toward spread.
Palm oil is used in the production of foods such as cake, chocolate, biscuits, margarine and fried fats.
It is also found in cosmetics, soap, shampoo, cleaning products and can be used as a biofuel.
Shockingly, up to 50 per cent of products in an average British supermarket now contain palm oil.
You can now receive all the necessary news sent directly to your inbox by joining our free WalesOnline newsletter.
It only takes seconds to subscribe – just click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
Professor Greg Hannon, director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: “This is a rigorous and comprehensive study that suggests exposure to a major component of palm oil continues to change the behavior of cancer cells, making them more prone to progress from local. to a potentially fatal metastatic disease.
“Considering the excess of palm oil as an ingredient in processed foods, this study provides a strong incentive for further study of how dietary choices affect the risk of tumor progression.”
Helen Rippon, head of Worldwide Cancer Research, added: “This discovery is a huge success in our understanding of how diet and cancer are linked and, perhaps more importantly, how we can use this knowledge to begin new treatments for cancer.
Metastasis is estimated to be responsible for 90 percent of all cancer deaths – that’s about nine million deaths a year worldwide.
“Learning more about what spreads cancer and – importantly – how to stop it is the way forward to reduce these numbers.”
To receive WalesOnline’s latest What’s On newsletter, click here