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Tumors and oxygen

Hooley's picture
Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2012

Is it a fallacy that if opened up for surgery the oxygen can make cancer thrive?   I have lung mets possibLy operational ,

thing is they say exercise is so good for u. With this causing oxygen to the blood does this too help or hinder tumours?

i just get so confused

luv and sunshine



barbebarb's picture
Posts: 464
Joined: Oct 2011

Overall, if you feel up to exercising do it. Itwould help your body stay strong and help with recovery
Surgery can help with nets in lungs. Chemo before to shrink and after to do mop up of remaining cells.
I have not heard of exposure making tumors thrive.
Ask your surgeon about vats procedure. I sent you a PM.
I hope someone else with lung mets will chime in.
We are here to support you.

renw's picture
Posts: 282
Joined: Jan 2013

Most cancers use glycolysis to get their energy. In essence they ferment glucuse. This process does not require oxygen and this enables cancers to thrive in hypoxic environments. Normal cells use oxygen to oxidise glucuse, which is a much more efficient process.

Based on this, one can argue that cancers do not like oxygen. However, just adding more oxygen I don't believe makes a difference as cancers will continue to use glycolysis, even if ample oxygen is available.

Where oxygen us inportant is during treatments that generate ROS (reactive oxygen species) such as radiation and some chemotherapy agents. There the extra oxygen can be very beneficial and inprove the efficacy of treatments.

Exercise is good for the immune system, and can keep cachexia at bay so by all means if you are able, excercise, excercise, excercise.

Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2012

Actually, CELLS use glycolysis to get their energy. The phenomenon that cancer cells have a much higher glycolytic rate (up to 200 times higher) is what makes PET scanners work, but adding or subtracting oxygen to the mix makes no difference. Oxygen takes no part in the glycolysis process.


Youve also got the ROS thing twisted - ROS has nothing to do with oxygen in the air sense. Cytotoxic procedures and drugs can both enhance and suppress ROS, with enhancing being more common at the moment, but adding or subtracting gaseous oxygen in the atmosphere is irrelevant and doesnt affect treatment efficacy.


We can agree on exersise though :-) Almost everyone agrees that exersize is only good.- Some oncologists even maintain its effect can be as good as chemo. I certainly know that for me, lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself can be effectively combated by kicking my own butt up and going for a walk or bike ride, and Im someone who is a lifelong hater of sport.


renw's picture
Posts: 282
Joined: Jan 2013

You are partially correct, but mostly wrong. You are splitting hairs over what was a simple explanation. Glycolysis does happen in normal cells,true, but its NOT the prime energy source.  Cancer cells use glycolysis as their primary means of obtaining energy. (Generally they do not use mitochondria, the cell's power plants.) This is inefficient, and uses much more glucose. In normal cells, the preferred energy source is ATP. two molecules of AtP are produced by glycolysis from a single glucose molecule. So yes normal cells also relly on Glycolysis to an extent, but MOST of the energy comes from the oxidation of glucose inside the mitochondria (ok not glucose but its glycolysis byproducts)  One byproduct of glycolysis is peruvate, this in normal cells is shuttled into the mitochondria and oxidised. (ok its more complicated than that and we can talk about nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide etc. but u get the point) Oxidation is an efficient process, and is how normal cells get most of their energy. Mitochondria can thus in comparison convert a single glucose molecule into 36 ATP's. (ok,38 if you count the original 2 atp's produced during glycolysis).

Many reactions require oxygen. In a hypoxic tumour environment, many treatments that rely on ROS (such as alkylating chemo agents) work better in a more oxygen rich environment. Ofcourse it has nothing to do with atmospheric oxygen, and all to do with intracellular concentration. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for example can be very effective when used in conjunction with chemo or radiation. It greatly increases oxygen saturation in the body and this makes treatments generating ROS more effective. Ok, no phase 3 trials, but enough research to indicate it works, and the chemistry makes sense.

Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2012

So basically we are saying the same thing (except you appear to be a biologist) and we are both probably over-simplifying the wrong bits.

To summarise for the OP:

1) Air will not promote your cancer

2) Extra oxygen taken in as a result of excersize will not promote your cancer

3) Exersize is always a good idea but particularly with cancer.




renw's picture
Posts: 282
Joined: Jan 2013

Lol: Oxygen saturation great for processes generating ROS like alkylating chemo agents etc. Great for varios metabolic processes, reduces inflamation and excercise great way to get extra oxygen in, and most important excercise great for immune system.

Extra oxygen be it from excercise, from inhaling pure strawbery flavoured O2 in an oxygen bar, or hyperbaric therapy will generally not cause cancer to grow.

Posts: 404
Joined: Jun 2012

"Tumors contain well-oxygenated (aerobic) and poorly oxygenated (hypoxic) regions, which were thought to utilize glucose for oxidative and glycolytic metabolism, respectively. In this issue of the JCI, Sonveaux et al. show that human cancer cells cultured under hypoxic conditions convert glucose to lactate and extrude it, whereas aerobic cancer cells take up lactate via monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT-1)"

Inhibiting MCT-1 is a good plan.

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