Most of us love our protein.
It’s in our steaks, our eggs, and even our beans. But, what if cutting back on protein could actually help us fight cancer?
A team of scientists at the University of Michigan found that it might be possible.
The Role of Proteins and mTORC1 in Cancer
It turns out that proteins do a lot more than build muscles. They send signals that make cells grow and multiply. One such regulator that uses these signals is called mTORC1.
It’s super active in some types of cancers and can even make cancer resistant to treatment.
The researchers found that a diet low in protein could block these signals. Specifically, reducing two key amino acids could change these signals through a complex called GATOR.
Previous Attempts and Side Effects
Scientists have tried to block mTORC1 before, but they’ve run into problems. The inhibitors used to block mTORC1’s signals can cause serious side effects. Even worse, when patients stop taking the inhibitors, the cancer can come back.
The Study’s Findings
So, what makes this study different? The researchers found that a low-protein diet could offer another way to shut down mTORC1.
They saw this happen in cells and mice. Limiting amino acids not only stopped the cancer from growing but also led to more cancer cells dying.
They also looked at tissue samples from colon cancer patients. The higher the markers of mTORC1, the more resistant the cancer was to chemotherapy. These patients also had worse outcomes.
This could mean that those with high mTORC1 markers might benefit from a diet change to complement their treatment.
A Balanced Approach
Of course, a low-protein diet can’t be the only treatment. It would have to be used along with other treatments, like chemotherapy.
The tricky part is that a low-protein diet could make cancer patients lose weight and muscle strength, which is already a problem.
The next steps in research will be to fine-tune this “therapeutic window” for limiting amino acids. The team also wants to understand better how these pathways are making the cancer treatment-resistant.
If you’re interested in cancer research, look up studies about how low-carb diets could increase your overall risk of cancer and how vitamin D supplements might significantly reduce cancer death.
Also, there are new findings about the cause of the most common type of pancreatic cancer and how to reduce the spread of pancreatic cancer by almost 90%.
This study, led by Yatrik M. Shah, was published in the journal Gastroenterology.
If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements could strongly reduce cancer death.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer and results showing higher intake of dairy foods linked to higher prostate cancer risk.
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