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Scientists have way to control sugars that lead to diabetes, obesity

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Scientists can now turn on or off the enzymes responsible for processing starchy foods into sugars in the human digestive system,

 

a finding they believe will allow them to better control those processes in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Bruce Hamaker, a professor of food science and director of the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research at Purdue University, said the four small intestine enzymes, called alpha-glucosidases, are responsible for generating glucose from starch digestion. Each enzyme functions differently, breaking down starches into different sugars at different rates. Someone missing one or more of those enzymes creates glucose improperly.

Influx of glucose to the blood increases insulin release from the pancreas, which allows the body to remove the sugar. When the body's tissues cannot respond well to insulin, the blood sugar is not lowered, a situation seen in type 2 diabetics. Even in non-diabetics, excess sugars not burned by the body as energy may be stored as fat, an issue for people prone to obesity.

Obesity Promotes Tumor Growth Regardless of Diet

Researchers may have discovered a new explanation as to why obese patients with cancer often have a poorer prognosis compared with those who are lean

 

The potential explanation is based on data reported in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Studies of the population have clearly established that there is a link between obesity and cancer incidence," said Mikhail Kolonin, Ph.D., associate professor at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "Moreover, for several cancers, obesity is associated with a poorer prognosis."

Kolonin and his colleagues evaluated how obesity promotes cancer progression. "Our earlier studies led us to hypothesize that fat tissue called white adipose tissue, which is the fat tissue that expands in individuals who are obese, is itself directly involved and that it is not just diet and lifestyle that are important," he said.

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