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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Lung cancer link to phosphates

9th January 2009

A Korean study in mice with lung cancer has suggested that inorganic phosphates, which are commonly added to food, may spur lung tumours.


Edibles containing these ingredients include some meat products, cheese, drinks, and bakery items.

All foods containing inorganic phosphates may be implicated in the growth of lung cancers.

The research team constructed a diet with similar percentages of phosphates to those found in human food, and tumour growth was affected among the mice.

The tumour growth kept accelerating in correlation with raised levels of phosphates.

Phosphates play a critical role in diverse cellular functions and are essential to all living organisms.

However, dietary intake of inorganic phosphates is a routine feature of modern times.

Study author Myung-Haing Cho of Seoul National University said high levels of phosphate interfere with signalling pathways in the body's tissues via the Akt pathway.

This cellular level interference can transform a normal cell into a malignant one.

His team's research was conducted by studying mice bred to automatically develop malignant tumours in their lungs.

The animals were given a diet which the scientists say represent the levels of inorganic phosphates in the modern human diet.

After four weeks, tissue was taken from the lungs of the mice and examined for malignant tumours.

Tumours from the mice ingesting a diet of 1% phosphate had grown faster than mice ingesting a diet of .5% phosphate.

Phosphate is used in food processing because of its ability to boost water retention and the texture of food.

High levels of inorganic phosphates could be disrupting the systems of signalling between cells in the body.

Cho said his team aimed eventually to collect sufficient information for the basis of risk assessment of dietary inorganic phosphate.

He said the researchers were gathering and accumulating information so as to get clearer answers based on extensive phosphate studies.

John Heffner of the Providence Portland Medical Center, said that while there have been worries about the high phosphate content of processed food, this study brings new evidence to light.

He said people will begin to see more studies and more case-control studies about the effects of phosphates on the body.

Cho said phosphate levels in modern diets had risen even in recent years, perhaps reaching 1000 mg a day in some cases.

He also said that the percentage of phosphate in diets today was very close to the diet of the mice under study and may even exceed it.

Recently, it has also been proposed that that excesses of long-term phosphate intake may quicken the ageing process.


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