With millions of Americans already diagnosed with cancer and many more diagnosed each year, cancer is the second-leading killer in the United States behind heart disease. While many research efforts are looking into ways to defeat specific types of cancer such as breast cancer, colon cancer, or pancreatic cancer, other efforts are looking into treatments that can be effective against a wide spectrum of different cancers. Now researchers may have discovered that a certain type of sugar may be effective in combating cancer.
Researchers have known for decades that cancer cells use glucose as their primary source of fuel. Some researchers have tried to use cancer cells’ fuel source against them by depriving cancer cells of glucose. But because glucose is used by all the body’s cells, that’s difficult to do.
Other researchers took a look at a sugar called mannose, which is normally produced in the body through metabolization of glucose. As mannose levels in the body build up, glucose metabolism slows down. Researchers added mannose to the drinking water of mice that had pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer and saw that the mice saw significantly slower tumor growth and no negative side effects.
Further studies on the operation of mannose involved mannose supplementation in mice that were treated with two common chemotherapy drugs. Those mice saw an enhanced effect of their chemotherapy drugs, smaller tumors, and longer lifespan.
While this looks very promising for mannose, it’s important to remember that research is still in its early stages, so mannose isn’t necessarily a cure-all for cancer. Mannose is commonly available as an over-the-counter supplement known as D-mannose, which is generally used as a prebiotic or to treat urinary tract infections. If you decide to start supplementing with mannose, be sure to consult with a health professional first to make sure that you avoid any potential complications or interactions.