Lactate is usually studied in athletes as the metabolic byproduct that accumulates in tissue and blood as your muscles work harder. But new research from the University of Colorado Boulder, published in the journal Carcinogenesis, sheds light on how a normal cell becomes a cancer cell and links lactate to the development and spread of cancer.
“With this paper, we open a whole new door for understanding cancer, showing for the first time that lactate is not only present, but mandatory for every step in its development,” says lead author Inigo San Millan, of the sports performance department and physiology laboratory at the CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center.
When people eat sugar, we produce lactate. By running, our bodies more effectively process it. Researchers say this study could explain why those who exercise tend to have reduced rates of cancer.
This summer, Millan is studying the impact of exercise on cancer patients. He hopes this research will lead to prescriptions for exercise and diet, diagnostic tools that would track lactate and even new drugs. “We hope to sound the alarm for the research community that to stop cancer you have to stop lactate.”