A high-salt diet is beneficial against tumors. A new study in mice shows that a high level of salt could fight tumor growth. This strange process is due to cells of the immune system and bacteria in the gut microbiome.
However, high-salt diets are not very famous due to several reasons. One, it could increase the blood pressure, and two, it can affect the cardiovascular system. According to the latest research, high salt intake has benefits as well.
The study focuses on the link between high salt intake and the anticancer response. Experts have noticed that this type of diet could stimulate inflammation while observing the mice.
Scientists fed the tumor model with different quantities of salt and noticed that a high intake restricts the growth of the tumor. The results describe a higher survival rate in mice with melanoma, carcinoma, and even metastatic cancer spreading in the bloodstream after the tumor growth was reduced.
“The tumor microenvironment is very immunosuppressive,” explains senior author Prof. Amit Awasthi that led the study.
“Everybody is talking about cancer immunotherapy. These drugs are FDA approved and are very effective. But nobody knows why these therapies only work in certain patients. Around 30-40% of patients are responders, but the rest aren’t.”
According to the results, the mice with a high salt intake were able to activate the natural killer cells, which then fought to stop the tumor growth. Strangely, a high salt diet allows the Bifidobacterium bacteria to migrate through the body, including inside the tumor. However, as hopeful as this study may sound, mice are not humans. Could this be relevant to us as well?
“We found that when you put the mice on a high-salt diet in a tumor condition, you also find hippuric acid is very significantly enriched. Connecting two things, we found that maybe the salt is utilizing the same pathway as those immunotherapy drugs in the human setting,” says Awasthi.
Combining a lower quality of Honjo’s immunotherapy with a lower salt diet also reduces the size of the tumor. This means that cancer treatments could soon be more accessible to everyone due to lower costs. Salt-and-immunotherapy regime could be the new way to combat cancer. However, more studies are required at the moment.