Step away from that glazed doughnut.

Per capita consumption of sugar in the U.S. has surged to more than 100 pounds per year, and all that sweet stuff could be deadly.

High amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs, according to a recent study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in mice and the findings, which were published in the Jan. 1 online issue of Cancer Research, demonstrated sugar’s effect on an enzymatic signaling pathway known as 12-LOX (12-lipoxygenase).

"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, in a press release from MD Anderson.

Researchers placed the mice into randomized groups and they were fed one of four diets. At six months of age, 30 percent of mice on a starch-control diet had measurable tumors, while 50 to 58 percent of the mice on the sucrose-enriched diets had developed mammary tumors. The numbers of lung metastases were also significantly higher in mice on a sucrose- or a fructose-enriched diet, compared to those on a starch-control diet.

“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," co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine said.

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Previous studies have shown that dietary sugar intake has an impact on breast cancer development, with inflammation thought to play a role, but none had investigated the direct effect using breast cancer animal models or examined specific mechanisms, according to the reseachers.

Cohen added that the data suggested that dietary sugar induces 12-LOX signaling to increase risks for breast cancer development and metastasis.

“This indicates a possible signaling pathway responsible for sugar-promoted tumor growth in mice," she added. "How dietary sucrose and fructose induces 12-HETE and whether it has a direct or indirect effect remains in question.”

The team recommended further investigation of the mechanism by which dietary sucrose or fructose affects breast tumor growth and metastasis, especially through the 12-LOX pathways.

And they also stressed that moderate sugar consumption is critical.