Sugar found in seaweed could prevent skin cancer

Sugar found in seaweed could prevent skin cancer

New research shows that there could be a sweeter way to fight cancer. According to a study published in Science Signaling, a rare sugar found in seaweed could have astonishing effects in preventing the spread of dangerous skin cancer cells.

The sugar, L-fucose, has been previously linked to hinder other cancers, such as breast and stomach, as well as a number of pathological conditions, but this is the first study to link it directly to melanoma, the most menacing form of skin cancer. 

The team of researchers from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute found that mice with melanoma who drank water infused with L-fucose were able to reduce the spread of their cancer by 50 to 60 percent. The researchers found that that the sugar had a sort of syrupy effect on their tumors, making them stick in place and preventing the melanoma from spreading into their lungs.

"Not only were the tumors affected, but also their microenvironment – the cells surrounding the tumor play a critical role in sustaining the cancer – making the discovery even more impactful," Dr. Ze'v Ronai, the senior author of the study, said.

Fortune Magazine reported that L-fucose has a different effect than standard table sugars, like glucose and fructose, that actually promote cancer growth. In fact, the source pointed out that Chinese medicine has historically used fucose-rich seaweeds to treat cancer. The researchers cautioned that these new findings require further study, including animal and human trials, in order to be recommended as treatment.

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