By Kristina Dougherty

AUSTIN, TX (CBS) – Need a reason to cut back on sugar?

According to a study, high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs.

The study investigated the impact of sugar on mammary gland tumor development on mice.

Researchers conducted four different studies in which mice were randomized to different groups and fed one of four diets.

According to the study, at six months old, 30 percent of mice on a starch-control diet had measurable tumors, whereas 50 to 58 percent of the mice on sucrose-enriched diets had developed mammary tumors.

Researchers say that numbers of lung metastases were significantly higher in mice on the sucrose- or a fructose-enriched diet, versus mice
on the starch-control diet.

“We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet,” said Peiying Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine.

“This was due, in part, to increased expression of 12-LOX and a related fatty acid called 12-HETE.”

“We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D.

Researchers say previous studies have also shown that dietary sugar intake has an impact on breast cancer development.

“Moderate sugar consumption is critical, given that the per capita consumption of sugar in the U.S. has surged to over 100 lbs. per year and an increase in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been identified as a significant contributor to an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and cancer worldwide,” researchers concluded.