October 1, 2022

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En hånd foran en skjerm som justerer temperaturen inne.

Cooler temperatures could help cancer patients during treatment – NRK Trøndelag

It is possible that the price of electricity has already caused you to lower the temperature in the house. Maybe there is another reason.

A study conducted at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden showed that staying at low temperatures activates the so-called brown adipose tissue.

It is a type of fatty tissue that uses sugar that cancer cells need to grow. Similar mechanisms were found in cancer patients who were in rooms with lower temperatures.

We found that brown adipose tissue competes with cancer tumors for glucose (sugar) and can help prevent the growth of tumors in mice, says Professor Yihai Kao of the Karolinska Institutet in press release.

The study was published in temper nature.

The results suggest that cryotherapy may be an appropriate new approach to treating cancer, but that it needs to be validated in larger clinical studies, Kao says.

Mouse Experiment: The study showed that cancer grew twice as fast in mice that were kept in warm environments compared to mice in cold environments.

Doubt that you can freeze yourself healthy

Therese Stendhal is a professor of cell biology and a cancer researcher at NTNU. She thinks it’s an exciting study, but she doesn’t think it’s as simple as these rat experiments show.

It’s an interesting principle if you can freeze yourself to recover from cancer, but other studies in mice have shown that the chance of getting cancer is greater when you’re cold. Stendhal tells NRK that the immune system works worse when exposed to cold

Stendhal stresses that there is no single factor that determines the development of cancer. However, she thinks this deserves more research.

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The mice in the study were exposed to extreme cold, and the results showed that cancer grows half faster in cold mice than in warm mice.

Professor Therese Stendhal

Worth a closer look: Therese Stendhal, professor of cell biology and a cancer researcher at NTNU, thinks the findings are exciting, but more research is needed.

Photo: Geir Mogen / NTNU

Cold mice lived longer

In the study, researchers compared the growth of tumors in mice that lived in cold or warm conditions. The mice had various types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer.

Tumor growth in mice that lived in 4°C conditions was significantly slower than mice that lived at 30°C and had almost twice the survival time.

The researchers found that lower temperatures led to the absorption of sugar in brown adipose tissue, a type of adipose tissue tasked with keeping the body warm in cold environments. At the same time, it was almost impossible to find signals for the use of sugar in cancer cells.

When the researchers removed brown adipose tissue, or the protein on which it works, the effect of cold therapy disappeared and the cancer cells grew again.

Also, feeding with drinks rich in sugar counteracts the effect of low temperatures.

It also points out that limiting access to sugar is an important way to slow the growth of cancer cells, says Kao.

It’s a well-established principle, says Therese Stendhal.

All cells in the body, and perhaps cancer cells in particular, need sugar or glucose to grow.

The images show a micrograph of two cancer cells from a patient with bone marrow cancer.  The cells are treated with an antibody that binds to PRL-3 and gives a green color as PRL-3 is present in the cells.

Need sugar: All cancer cells need sugar to grow. The study shows that reducing sugar intake can also prevent cancer cells from growing.

Photo: Magne Børset / NTNU

Positive results also in human studies

To find out the suitability of this type of treatment for humans, six healthy people and one cancer patient were recruited.

The researchers determined the amount of brown fat in the neck, spine and chest area of ​​healthy people. They had to stay in a room at 16 degrees for six hours every day for two weeks, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts.

The only cancer patient in the experiment stayed in a room at 22 degrees for a week, and in a room at 28 degrees for four days.

Measurements showed that the amount of brown adipose tissue was increased in the test subjects, and that in the cancer patient there was less sugar uptake in the tumor when staying in a 22 degree environment compared to 28 degree. .

Yihai Cao says these are temperatures most people can tolerate. So we believe that cold therapy and revitalization of brown adipose tissue can be a tool in your toolbox when it comes to cancer treatment.