A recent study with mice has shown that compounds in palm oil can encourage the spread of cancer.

In particular, palmitic acid was found to promote metastasis in both skin and mouth cancers. This knowledge could help create a process for treatment with drugs or structured eating plans. Researchers, however, warn against patients putting themselves on a diet before clinical trials are underway.

This study, and others like it, add to a pile of evidence that suggests diet can help fortify existing treatments for cancer. Specific nutrients are utilized by or required for tumors cells during different points in growth stages.

Previous research by this team showed that particular cancer cells relied on fatty acids in order to facilitate growth. The current study showed that while fatty acids like oleic acid and linoleic acid didn’t increase the spread of cancer in mice, palmitic acid did when given to mice who already had mouth and skin cancer.

Results suggest that palmitic acid promotes changes to genes in cancer cells that allow them to consume fatty acids more efficiently. Palmitic acid also allowed cells to create signaling networks outside of the tumor, thereby helping the cancer spread.

The primary cause of death in cancer patients is due to metastasis. This research may help find a way to block the process of tumor responses to palmitic acid. Patients would have an easier time getting the therapy they need without having to drastically change their diet.

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