PET Scan

My apologies for not posting last week. My laptop was at Geek Squad to clean out any stuff left by a scammer.

photo of gray cat looking up against black background

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This morning I had a PET scan. I’d had one four years ago and forgot the routine.

After accessing my port, a nuclear technician took me to a back room to give me the glucose laced with a radioactive isotope. I had to lie down for an hour while it processed through my system. I had a private room with a bed.

BTW, to prepare, I couldn’t exercise for 24 hours or eat four hours prior to the scan.

The tech then had me lie on the PET bed and ran me through the machine, once to get my torso and another to scan my legs. The scan would have taken 40 minutes, but she had a problem with either the computer or the machine. I needed to be re-scanned and the total time was 60 minutes on that PET bed.

The PET detects cancer by how the sugar is absorbed by cells. Cancer cells uptake sugar at a higher rate than healthy cells, and the radioactive isotope makes the area light up when the machine scans. It’s a more accurate detection system than a CT scan.

The side benefit as far as my husband was concerned was that I was radioactive for a while. He couldn’t get me home fast enough with the first PET. He set his Geiger counter to the lowest setting and pointed it at me. I pegged it at three feet!

And with no cancer detected, I won’t have to see the doc for three months! Yay!

 

 

Sugar and Cancer – Take 2

So, my last blog post showed that sugar does not cause cancer. Since then, I found another article that claims sugar causes cancer to grow. What should we believe?Cakes

The first blog post was based on information posted 12/3/17 from http://www.verywellhealth.com. This one draws from http://www.beatcancer.org and was published 3/9/14. Both have a medical advisory board.

Beat Cancer states that sugar encourages cancer growth, since cancer cells uptake sugar at 10-12 times the rate of healthy cells. PET (positron emission tomography) scans use radioactively labeled glucose to detect tumors, since cancer cells uptake sugar at a higher rate.

Otto Warburg, whose research was referenced in my first blog post, found in 1931 that cancer cells increased glycolysis, a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer. He also discovered that cancers thrive in an acidic environment. Sugar is highly acidic.

Sugar can impact how much insulin is released by the pancreas, which can have an effect on some kinds of cancer.

Sugar also contributes to obesity, which can affect cancer.

Does sugar cause cancer? My money is on the fact that sugar can ultimately lead to type II diabetes which does affect tumors. I also am suspicious that the sugar-causes-cancer argument is based on research more than 80 years old.

I don’t think we should get into a blame loop that we’ve eaten too much sugar and it’s our fault we have cancer. I’ve been in that loop and it doesn’t change the situation.

Cutting sugar is a healthy habit, so avoiding it makes sense.

So take your pick. My contention is that nobody really knows.

 

Cancer and Sugar

Everybody says that sugar causes cancer. The truth is more complicated than that.

assorted pastry on shelf

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The concept has been around since the 1924 publication of Dr. Otto Warburg’s paper, On Metabolism of Tumors. He was a Nobel-Prize-winning cell biologist who hypothesized that cancer growth was caused when cancer cells converted glucose into energy without using oxygen. Healthy cells make energy by converting pyruvate and oxygen, but cancer cells don’t oxidize pyruvate. Don’t ask me what “pyruvate” is. I’m too lazy to look it up.

However, cancer doesn’t work that way. It’s caused by genetic mutations, which can include inherited mutations or those acquired through exposure to carcinogens. Although healthy cells and cancer cells do convert their food to energy in different ways, that difference is an effect, not a cause, of cancer.

Despite the flaw in theories from the past, there appears to be some link between excess sugar levels and cancer. People with type II diabetes have an increased risk of several cancers. An elevated blood sugar level may contribute to the formation of cancer cells, resistance to cell death in cancer cells, and tumors becoming resistant to chemotherapy.

Tumor cells appear to use a combination of sugar and specific proteins to keep growing when old healthy cells would die and be replaced with new ones. These cancer cells appear to use sugar at a high rate in order to ignore the instructions to die off.

Researchers are devising ways to trick cancer cells into growing more slowly and eventually dying. They produced a hybrid molecule made of a simple sugar and n-butyrate, a type of salt. The cells soaked up this new molecule which interfered with their ability to keep growing, and they died.

Other teams of scientists are working on drugs that will take advantage of cancer’s weakness for sugar to make tumor cells more sensitive to chemo drugs.

Consuming more sugar-based foods is linked to obesity, and obesity is linked to cancer. Obesity alters hormone levels which are associated with a greater risk of both developing cancer and having a cancer recur or progress. According to the International Association for Research on Cancer, one of the best things to do to prevent cancer or prevent a recurrence is to be as lean as possible without being underweight.

It’s time for all of us to get serious about diet and exercise. Including me.