Eating chocolate, biscuits and bread while suffering from cancer makes the disease more deadly, new research suggests.
A key ingredient in palm oil – found in hundreds of foods and some toiletries – stimulates a protein called CD36 in humans, told Daily Mail.
BARCELONA, Spain, Institute for Research in Barcelona – Experts believe this plays a vital role in tumours upping their anchor and spreading around the body, known as metastasizing.
It is hoped the ‘game-changing’ findings could lead to new treatments to prevent cancer from reaching vital organs.
Spanish researchers found the protein in the membranes of tumour cells taken from patients with advanced mouth, skin, ovarian, bladder, lung and breast cancers.
They discovered standard dietary fats also stimulate CD36, allowing cancer cells to spread.
To confirm the link, mice were then injected with advanced human mouth cancer and fed either a low-fat or a high-fat diet.
All the animals whose cancer was exposed to CD36 went on to develop metastasis, according to the study published in Nature.
However, only half of those without ended up having their tumours spread, the team from the Institute for Research in Barcelona found.
Further research showed that blocking the protein with antibodies completely prevented metastasis in mice.
While in mice whose cancer had already spread, disease progress was halted by a fifth.
They are now working on developing antibody-based therapies that target CD36 that work specifically on humans.
Lead researcher Professor Salvador Benitah said: ‘In mice inoculated with human tumour cells, there appears to be a direct link between fat intake and an increase in metastatic potential through CD36.
‘More studies are needed to unravel this intriguing relationship, above all because industrialised countries are registering an alarming increase in the consumption of saturated fats and sugar.
‘Fat is necessary for the function of the body, but uncontrolled intake can have an effect on health, as already shown for some tumours such as colon cancer, and in metastasis, as we demonstrate here.’
Dr Lara Bennett, science communications manager at Worldwide Cancer Research, which funded the study, said: ‘We have been supporting Professor Benitah’s work for a number of years and it is fantastic to now see these truly game-changing results.
‘If the team are able to go on to develop this antibody into a treatment for humans, it could save thousands of lives every year.’