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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Cancer as a metabolic disease

Thomas N Seyfried* and Laura M Shelton

Author Affiliations

Biology Department, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:7  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-7

Published: 27 January 2010

Abstract

Emerging evidence indicates that impaired cellular energy metabolism is the defining characteristic of nearly all cancers regardless of cellular or tissue origin. In contrast to normal cells, which derive most of their usable energy from oxidative phosphorylation, most cancer cells become heavily dependent on substrate level phosphorylation to meet energy demands. Evidence is reviewed supporting a general hypothesis that genomic instability and essentially all hallmarks of cancer, including aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect), can be linked to impaired mitochondrial function and energy metabolism. A view of cancer as primarily a metabolic disease will impact approaches to cancer management and prevention.