New cancer research suggests that we have misunderstood the feeding habits of cancer for decades, wrongly believing that cancer cells produce the bulk of their energy by breaking down glucose in the absence of oxygen, known as the Warburg effect.
Dr. Michael Lisanti of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson proposes that when a cell turns cancerous it begins to release hydrogen peroxide. The resulting free radicals cause oxidative damage that prompt support cells in the surrounding connective tissues, known as fibroblasts, to digest themselves.
In a New Scientist article, Dr. Lisanti explains, “It’s the Warburg effect, but in the wrong place. Cancer cells can feed off normal cells as a parasite.”
Dr. Lisanti and his team found that treating cancer cells with catalase, an enzyme that destroys hydrogen peroxide, triggered a five-fold increase in cancer cell death. The article also goes on to say that Dr. Lisanti is now gathering evidence to find out whether his ideas can be applied to many cancers or just a few.