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Could sugar stop esophageal cancer?

Sweet attack on major killer

You know when it comes to your waistline–and your general health–that you should stay far, far away from sugar.

But when it comes to fighting one of the nation’s deadliest cancers, it turns out that sugar might not be the enemy. Instead, it could be a powerful ally.

Obviously, we already have a few exceptions when it comes to the “stay away from sugar” rule. D-mannose can wipe out a nasty urinary tract infection, polysaccharides can boost your immune system to fight off colds and the flu, and xylitol can help prevent recurring ear infections.

Now it looks like we can add another exception to the rule.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council recently found that sugar could be a major player in the fight against a major killer–esophageal cancer.

Many people who develop esophageal cancer start out with Barrett’s dysplasia, in which pre-cancerous cells are present in the esophagus. This condition usually has to be monitored carefully for progression, but this new research shows that we might be able to forget about monitoring and just plain wipe out the cancer in its tracks.

At the Barrett’s dysplasia stage, cancer can be prevented by removing the pre-cancerous cells. It’s hard to identify the cells, though, and they can very easily be missed. At the same time, healthy cells can sometimes be mistaken for pre-cancerous cells.

This is where sugar comes in. The researchers discovered that they could use a fluorescent tag combined with wheat germ proteins that stick to sugars. The tag lights up abnormal areas during endoscopy. This works because, as shown by analysis of sugars in human tissue samples, different sugar molecules are present on pre-cancerous cells as compared to normal cells.

This new tool could allow doctors to see pre-cancerous cells clearly in order to target them for removal, thereby freezing the development of cancer in its tracks.

Wheat germ proteins are non-toxic, which means this new process won’t introduce any harmful substances or space-alien molecules into the body.

A possible way to eliminate cancer risk at its earliest stage? Now, that’s sweet.

P.S. Does your body “ignore” certain vitamins? Keep reading.

Sources:
“Researchers Use Sugar to Halt Esophageal Cancer in Its Tracks,” Science Daily (sciencedaily.com)