Fat-eating microbes in the gut promote cancer growth

GUANGZHOU, May 8, 2024 (Xinhua) — A group of Chinese cancer researchers has discovered a new mechanism by which obesity-related microbes in the gut promote the development of cancer, and it involves the release of specific chemicals that promote the growth and spread of cancer cells.

A high-fat diet is widely regarded as a major risk factor for the malignant development of various cancers, largely due to its disruptive effects on the gut microbiome. However, the precise role of a high-fat diet in cancer development was not fully understood at the time.

Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University developed several models in cancer-resistant mice and fat-fed microbes that released large amounts of leucine, an amino acid found in many proteins.

According to a study published last Monday in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,” high levels of leucine in peripheral blood have been shown to be associated with poor clinical outcomes in female breast cancer patients.

Additionally, an abnormal gut microbiome has been implicated in the development of resistance to chemotherapy and certain immunotherapies for breast cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma.

The study results open broad horizons for anti-cancer therapeutic strategies targeting the abnormal metabolism of the gut microbiota, the researchers said.

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