Singapore City, Singapore – A recent study conducted in Singapore has shed light on the connection between consuming junk food and an increased risk of cancer. The research focused on the impact of a compound called methylglyoxal, which is released when the body breaks down sugary and fatty foods, on a gene responsible for fighting off tumors. This discovery represents a significant step in understanding the link between dietary choices and cancer development.

The study revealed that methylglyoxal can temporarily deactivate the BRCA2 gene, which plays a crucial role in protecting against cancer. This finding challenges the conventional belief that genes like BRCA2 need to be completely inactive to elevate cancer risk. Researchers discovered that exposure to methylglyoxal can diminish the gene’s ability to suppress tumors, potentially leading to DNA damage and early signs of cancer development.

Dr. Ashok Venkitaraman, the lead researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Cancer Research, highlighted the impact of processed foods and red meat on gene damage. The study observed how individuals with inherited faulty copies of BRCA2, making them more susceptible to cancer, were particularly sensitive to the effects of methylglyoxal. This sensitivity underscores the importance of diet in cancer prevention and underscores the need for further research in this area.

Furthermore, the research indicated that individuals with diabetes or prediabetes, who often have high levels of methylglyoxal, may face an increased risk of cancer due to the compound’s ability to temporarily deactivate cancer-preventing genes. The study’s findings suggest that repeated poor dietary choices or uncontrolled diabetes could cumulatively elevate cancer risk over time, emphasizing the critical role of lifestyle factors in cancer prevention.

While the study was conducted on cells rather than individuals, it adds to a growing body of evidence linking diet to cancer risk. Previous research has shown that diets rich in red meat and sugar may lower levels of certain compounds that inhibit tumor growth, highlighting the complex interplay between dietary choices and cancer development. The implications of these findings extend beyond colorectal cancer, underscoring the importance of maintaining a healthy diet to reduce the risk of various types of cancer.

Published in the journal Cell, this study underscores the need for further investigation into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between diet, gene function, and cancer risk. By exploring how dietary choices can influence genetic processes and cancer development, researchers can pave the way for more targeted prevention strategies and personalized interventions to combat this widespread disease.