Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that can be used as a food sweetener. It is permissible for cancer patients since it is not fermented by cancer like glucose, and a significantly smaller percentage is absorbed in the GI tract. Xylitol even reduces intestinal glucose absorption. Furthermore, xylitol can alleviate treatment side effects like dry mouth and mucositis. It also has antimicrobial properties especially against encapsulated organisms like Pneumococcus, and was shown to have anticancer effects in lung cancer cells. A study of lung cancer cell lines demonstrated that xylitol has a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on cell proliferation. A different study also demonstrated that xylitol has an antiproliferative effect in vitro. In this study, normal cells and oral squamous cell cancer cell lines were treated with glucose or partial substitution of glucose with xylitol. Partial substitution of glucose with xylitol resulted in decreased cell proliferation. A metabolite of xylitol, D-xylulose, further enhanced the antiproliferative activity of xylitol. In addition, there are no data to suggest that xylitol is carcinogenic or is associated with an increased risk of cancer.
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