Increased dietary intake of inorganic phosphate, a common food additive found in various processed food, is suspected to increase the risk and spread of lung cancer. The results were evident with a study conducted on mouse model.
Conducted by Myung-Haing Cho, D.V.M., Ph.D., and his colleagues at Seoul National University, the study also suggested that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates might play an important role in lung cancer treatment.
"Our study indicates that increased intake of inorganic phosphates strongly stimulates lung cancer development in mice, and suggests that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates may be critical for lung cancer treatment as well as prevention," said Cho.
The study revealed that high levels of inorganic phosphates can stimulate non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) pathways.
"Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell proliferation in lung tissue, and disruption of signaling pathways in those tissues can confer a normal cell with malignant properties. Deregulation of only a small set of pathways can confer a normal cell with malignant properties, and these pathways are regulated in response to nutrient availability and, consequently, cell proliferation and growth," explained Cho.
He added: "Phosphate is an essential nutrient to living organisms, and can activate some signals. This study demonstrates that high intake of inorganic phosphates may strongly stimulate lung cancer development by altering those (signaling) pathways."
For the study, the researcher analysed lung cancer-model mice for four weeks.
The mice were randomly assigned to receive a diet of either 0.5 or 1.0 percent phosphate, a range roughly equivalent to modern human diets.
After four-weeks, the lung tissue was analysed to determine the effects of the inorganic phosphates on tumours.
"Our results clearly demonstrated that the diet higher in inorganic phosphates caused an increase in the size of the tumours and stimulated growth of the tumours," said Cho.
"The results of this study suggest that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates has a place in lung cancer treatment, and our eventual goal is to collect sufficient information to accurately assess the risk of these phosphates," he said.
The study has been published in the January issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.