What gives you cancer? Every day the answer changes. Not wearing sunscreen used to be a surefire way to increase your risk of cancer, then within years there were claims that wearing sunscreen was actually what put you at risk for developing cancer. Studies come out every week, each one with different results. What you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat…it’s impossible to know. Cancer is a difficult disease, and it’s one that is still largely a mystery to doctors today, even after years of study. There are a lot of mixed opinions, conflicting studies, and differing viewpoints. All we can do is keep up with the latest news and hope that it helps.

One of the most recent cancer studies was conducted by the University College of London, and it identifies processed sugar as one of the driving forces behind the growth and spread of cancer tumors. The study, which was based around the concept that tumors consume more glucose than normal, healthy tissues do in order to sustain their growth, could have some pretty interesting ramifications for the future of cancer screening.

For the study, scientists sensitized an MRI scanner to look specifically for glucose in the body. They noticed that cancer tumors light up very brightly when screened for this way, mostly because they contain high amounts of sugar. The technique is called “glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer”, and it was proven to be incredibly effective during the study.

Researchers are pretty excited about it. Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, the lead researcher of the study from the UCL Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, said that “The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material”.

While the results of the study may show exciting new possibilities for the way we conduct cancer screening, they also issue a word of warning to citizens about monitoring their sugar intake. “What we’re beginning to learn,” said Dr. Lewis Cantley, head of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University, “is that insulin can cause adverse effects in various tissues, and a particular concern is cancer. If you happen to have a tumor that has insulin receptors on it, then it will get stimulated to take up the glucose that’s in the bloodstream. So rather than going to the fat or to the muscle, the glucose now goes into the tumor, and the tumor uses it to grow.”

The study highlights the importance of maintaining a balanced, healthy diet, reducing sugar intake to help minimize the risk of cancer. Does it work? We don’t know for sure. But it’s an interesting idea, and it never hurts to eat healthy!