Squamous cell lung cancers (SqCC), a form of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), are glucose-dependent, while adenocarcinoma NSCLC tumors are largely glucose-independent, according to an analysis of patient NSCLC tumor samples, patient tumor xenografts in mice, mouse models and cell line experiments, and data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), published in Nature Communications.1

Researchers found “markedly elevated” expression of GLUT1, a glucose transporter, in lung SqCC, suggesting that GLUT1 and tumor sugar dependence could be targets for new drug development against lung SqCC, a malignancy for which management can be notoriously challenging.

The findings might also have cancer prevention implications and dietary implications for patients with cancer — a question the coauthors will address in a planned follow-up animal study of sugar-restricted diets lung tumor progression, according to a press release.2

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“Excessive sugar consumption is not only a problem that can lead to complications like diabetes, but also, based on our studies and others, the evidence is mounting that some cancers are also highly dependent on sugar,” Jung-whan Kim, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, and senior author of the study, said in the release. “We’d like to know from a scientific standpoint whether we might be able to affect cancer progression with dietary changes.”


  1. Goodwin J, Neugent ML, Lee SY, et al. The distinct metabolic phenotype of lung squamous cell carcinoma defines selective vulnerability to glycolytic inhibition. Nat Communications. 2017 May 26. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15503 [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Study sweetens connection between cancer and sugar [news release]. EurekAlert!; May 26, 2017. https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/uota-ssc052317.php. Accessed May 26, 2017.