In a new study, scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas have found that some types of cancers have more of a sweet tooth than others.

“It has been suspected that many cancer cells are heavily dependent on sugar as their energy supply, but it turns out that one specific type — squamous cell carcinoma — is remarkably more dependent,” said Dr. Jung-whan “Jay” Kim, assistant professor of biological sciences and senior author of the study published May 26 in the online journal Nature Communications.

Kim and his collaborators initially set out to investigate differences in metabolism between two major subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer — adenocarcinoma (ADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC). About one quarter of all lung cancers are SqCC, which has been difficult to treat with targeted therapies, Kim said.

The research team, which included a Dallas high school student who interned in Kim’s lab, first tapped into a large government database called The Cancer Genome Atlas, which maps information about 33 types of cancer gathered from more than 11,000 patients.

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: This research underscores the importance of limiting sugar when fighting cancer. When we say sugar, we are talking about sugar from a biochemical perspective – not just the white powdery stuff, but anything that serves as a quick burning carbohydrate source in the body. This includes table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, rice, pasta, bread, and even some naturally-occurring sugars in high glycemic fruits and fruit juices. Remember: if it lights up on a PET scan, it is a high utilizer of sugar.