What if you have cancer and the doctor you go to knows what substance feeds that cancer? You would expect your doctor to tell you to avoid that substance, right? Well, imagine that he tells you that you can eat as much of that substance as you want. That it somehow won't make any difference on your overall outcome. Does this make any sense at all? Of course not. But it happens all the time. In fact, in oncology (cancer) medicine, it's routine.
Recently, doctors developed a new way to test for cancer. It's called a glucoCEST. GlucoCEST stands for glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer. Here's what it does. The system enables a standard MRI scanning machine to determine how much glucose any spot in the body takes up. And that's important. Because glucose is the basic sugar that is in table sugar and that all carbohydrates break down into. By carbohydrates I mean grains, fruit, and starches. And how does the glucoCEST test for the presence of cancer?
Cancer cells are unique. Unlike healthy cells, they can only live off glucose. Other cells can live off fat, but cancer cells can't. They need glucose. So what the researchers do is feed a small amount of glucose to a patient and then see if there are any areas in the body that immediately consume it. When they find an area that consumes the glucose immediately, that area is cancerous. Now this new detection device is fantastic for several reasons.
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One, it dramatically shows how important it is for patients with cancer to avoid eating the foods that feed the cancer — carbohydrates. According to Professor Mark Lythgoe, the senior author on the study, using this new technique, "We can detect cancer using the same sugar content found in half a standard-sized chocolate bar." Did you get that? He is saying that the amount of sugar that is found in only half of a candy bar is sufficient to be picked up by a cancer and light up a scanning device enough to show where the cancer is. The moral is simple. Do you want to feed your cancer and make it grow faster? Then start eating sugar, grains, and fruits.
Now many of you reading this report might respond by saying, "What's so new about this kind of measurement?" PET (positive emission tomography) scans have been doing that for years. Yes, but there is a big difference between PET scans and the glucoCEST scan. First of all, glucoCEST uses real sugar. PET scans have to use radioactive sugar. Patients with cancer are already exposed to a lot of radiation simply because of their disease treatment. Less would be better. Also, the radioactive sugar is way more expensive than regular sugar.
In addition to being a safer and simpler alternative to PET scans, the new procedure is more sensitive than PET scans and allows the radiologists to see the tumors in greater detail. According to Professor Lythgoe, doctors can use the new glucoCEST with any MRI.
I don't know when the glucoCEST will be available at your local hospital, but I do know this. If you have cancer and your oncologist says it doesn't matter whether you eat sugar or the grains and fruits that break down into sugar, ignore his advice. This new technology shows that the sugar or carbs you are eating will go straight to your cancer and cause it to grow faster.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Walker-Samuel S, Ramasawmy R, Torrealdea F, et al. In vivo imaging of glucose uptake and metabolism in tumors. Nat Med. 2013 Aug;19(8):1067-72.