Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue | Page 36

Cancer News

Sugar testing for early cancer diagnosis
The technique might outperform DNA-based tests in detection accuracy

Anew method that analyses a type of sugar involved in metabolism has shown promise in detecting multiple cancers at an early stage , suggesting it might pave the way for improvements in treatment outcomes .

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden looked for cancer-indicating changes in the glycosaminoglycan sugars of 1,260 participants and were able to detect all the 14 cancer types that were tested , finding twice as many stage I malignancies in healthy people with no symptoms compared to most Multi-Cancer Early Detection tests that are usually based on DNA analysis and struggle to spot early cancers .
“ This is a previously unexplored method , and thanks to the fact that we have been able to test it in a large population , we can show that it is effective in finding more stage I cancers and more cancer types . The method makes it possible to find cancer types that are not screened for today and cannot be found with DNA-based MCED tests , such as brain tumours and kidney cancer ,” Dr Francesco Gatto , who is a visiting researcher at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers and one of the study ’ s authors , said in a press release .
Certain cancers can be deadly , especially when diagnosed at a late stage , but are often much easier to treat with existing therapies in their early phases .
The new method is also cheaper and more practical because it just requires small quantities of blood or urine . Glycosaminoglycan sugars have widespread functions in the body , such as cell signalling and wound repair .
Chemical for processing meat increases cancer risk
New study adds to previous research suggesting nitrites are linked to cancer

The use of nitrites to produce things like ham or bacon has been tied to a “ clear ” increased risk of developing cancer in people who eat them too often , according to UK scientists .

A team of researchers from Queen ’ s University Belfast observed that mice fed with nitrite-processed meat developed 75 percent more malignant tumours than the animals that ate pork without the chemical . In particular , the former group developed 82 percent more tumours in the bowel . Those who ate nitrite-free meat didn ’ t see any increase in cancer risk .
“ The results from our study clearly show that not all processed meats carry the same risk of cancer and that the consumption of nitrite-containing processed meat exacerbates the development of cancerous tumours ,” said Dr Brian Green , a researcher at the University ’ s Institute for Global Food Security and one of the study authors , in the Guardian .
Previous research had already found a link between nitrites and bowel , breast , and prostate cancers , and the French government committed to avoid using the chemical in food production after a study by the national health agency concluded it increased cancer risk .
“ The results of this new study make the cancer risk associated with nitrite-cured meat even clearer . The everyday consumption of nitrite-containing bacon and ham poses a very real risk to public health ,” said study co-author Dr Chris Elliot , a professor at the Institute for Global Food Security , in the Guardian .
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