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What is the link between cancer and sugar?

It's commonly heard that sugar causes cancer or makes it grow faster. In some ways, this makes sense. Every cell in your body uses blood sugar (glucose) for energy, including cancer cells. But cancer cells consume about 200 times more sugar than normal cells. They need huge amounts of sugar to fuel their rapid growth.

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Aggressive cancers in ‘evolutionary arms race’ with the immune system

Aggressive and highly-mutated cancers are engaged in an “evolutionary arms race” with the immune system, new research suggests.

Gullet and stomach cancers with faults in their systems for repairing DNA build up huge numbers of genetic mutations which make them resistant to treatments like chemotherapy.

But these numerous mutations mean they appear foreign to the immune system, leaving them vulnerable to attack, and susceptible to new immunotherapies.

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), found that these “hyper-mutant” tumours rapidly evolve strategies to disguise themselves from the immune system and evade attack.

They hope that in the future, the findings could help optimise treatment with immunotherapy, and other drugs such as chemotherapy.

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New Colorectal Cancer Guide

New Colorectal Cancer Guide Offers

Support and Practical Help to ‘Invisible’ Carers


Brussels, 15 January 2020: Digestive Cancers Europe, the voice of digestive cancer patients in Europe, has published a comprehensive new guide, ‘Caring for Someone with Colorectal Cancer’.

Click here to see the guide.


Carers and Patients who have lived with colorectal cancer helped to write this first guide designed specifically for Carers. It contains a wealth of information designed to be both reassuring and practical, recognising that the level of care required can vary considerably according to the stage and severity of the disease and personal circumstances.


The Guide examines the predominantly underestimated role of the Carer and provides sympathetic advice on the medical, psychological, emotional and social aspects of caring for someone with Colorectal Cancer. It also addresses practical aspects such as day-to-day living, forward planning, helpful equipment, roles around the house, diet and nutrition and exercise. Finally, it looks at employment, workplace rights and financial aspects, including financial support.  


The publication will fill a gap in the resources available to the dedicated, but often overlooked, thousands of Carers who devote their lives to others.


“Most people don’t choose to be a Carer,” said Digestive Cancers Europe Director, Jola Gore-Booth, who produced the Guide. “It’s a situation that can be thrust on them quite suddenly and, generally, they don’t receive any training or instruction for it. They just get on with it.


“Carers sometimes feel that they are invisible and unappreciated. We wanted to produce a Guide to recognise their amazing commitment and contribution, to assist them in being more effective and to help them realise that you are never alone in this journey. There are many organisa­tions – Patient Groups, Colorectal Cancer Groups and Carer Groups – set up to provide assistance to people living with colorectal cancer and their Carers.”


Digestive Cancers Europe  is making the guide available across Europe through the organisation’s own network of patient groups, through its website, social media and newsletter and through clinicians in direct contact with Patients and Carers.


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women worldwide with almost 55% of the cases occurring in more developed regions.


With almost 1.4 million new cases of colorectal cancer each year worldwide it presents 9.7% of the total global cancer cases. The increase in the number of cases is driven by population growth and ageing as well as poor diet and lifestyle.


In Europe it is the second most common cancer with more than 470,000 European citizens being diagnosed every year with the disease. Colorectal cancer kills 228,000 Europeans every year with the highest estimated mortality rates in both sexes being in Central and Eastern Europe


The disease is preventable in many cases and highly treatable if diagnosed in its early stages.


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About Digestive Cancers Europe

Digestive Cancers Europe is a cancer action group that has grown out of EuropaColon, which has been representing the voice of the colorectal cancer community for almost 15 years with 28 member groups in 26 countries across Europe.


Digestive Cancers Europe’s aim is to save lives by bringing together all key stakeholders in the fight against these cancers. The organisation campaigns for the adoption of best practices in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow up. Its mission is to contribute to early diagnosis and decreased mortality from digestive cancers and to increase overall survival and quality of life.


Media Contact

Jola Gore-Booth

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Doing less than 25 minutes of exercise a day could help ward off cancer

With the over-indulgence of Christmas out the way and a virtuous new year on the cards, it’s likely you’ve already considered lacing up your trainers.

If you do, fear not having to find time for a workout stretching up to an hour - or even longer.

A new study has shown that less than half-an-hour of exercise a day can benefit your health.

The research, published Journal of Clinical Oncology, found doing under 25 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis could ward off cancer.

More specifically, experts at the American Cancer Society discovered that to gain the protective perks you needed to clock up a total of two-and-a-half hours’ training a week.

This was linked to a reduced risk of seven forms of the disease – including breast, colon and kidney cancers.

The study, conducted in conjunction with Harvard University, looked at data from 750,000 participants.

Researchers measured the amount of physical activity they did, and also whether they developed particular types of cancer.

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Not all processed meats are linked with cancer, study says

Despite current concerns that eating processed meat is linked to a higher risk of cancer, a new research suggests it may just be processed meat treated with nitrites that poses a risk.

Carried out by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, the new analysis included 61 existing studies which looked at the relationship between consuming processed meat and the risk of developing bowel, colon and rectal cancers.

The findings, published in the journal Nutrients, showed that despite concerns, not all processed meats appear to have the same level of cancer risk, and around only half the studies provided evidence for a link between processed meat and colorectal cancer (CRC).

In addition, when the researchers looked at processed meats which had been treated with sodium nitrite, a preservative which is used to enhance color and prevent food spoiling, they found that this figure jumped from half to 65% of the studies showing evidence of a link with CRC.

“When we looked at nitrite-containing processed meat in isolation – which is the first time this has been done in a comprehensive study – the results were much clearer, ” explained research fellow Dr William Crowe. “Almost two-thirds of studies found a link with cancer.”

The Wold Health Organization classified all processed meat as a carcinogen in 2015, including bacon, sausages, ham and cured meats such as prosciutto and salami.

However, the researchers point out that some processed meat is nitrite-free.

For example, British and Irish sausages are not treated with nitrites, whereas other European and United States sausages like frankfurters, pepperoni and chorizo are.

Moreover, some new types of bacon and ham are now available which are also nitrite-free.

The researchers believe that a distinction should now be made to show the different risks posed by nitrite-treated and nitrite-free processed meat.

“Because there have been conflicting claims in the scientific community and the media about which types of meat may be carcinogenic, this study couldn’t have come at a better time. It brings much-needed rigor and clarity and points the way for further research in this area, ” commented study lead author Dr Brian Green.

As to whether we should cut processed meat containing nitrites out of our diets, Dr Green says to keep following current guidelines.

“The current (UK) Department of Health guidance advises the public to consume no more than 70g of red or processed meat per day.

“That remains the guidance, but we hope that future research investigating the link between diet and CRC will consider each type of meat individually rather than grouping them together.

“Our findings clearly show that not all processed meats, for example, carry the same level of risk.”

“There is more research to be done before we can definitively prove causality regarding processed meat and cancer – there are so many variables when it comes to people’s diets. But based on our study, which we believe provides the most thorough review of the evidence on nitrites to date, what we can confidently say is that a strong link exists between nitrite-containing processed meat, such as frankfurters, and CRC.” — Relaxnews

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FDA Approves Drug for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

There’s a new treatment option for some patients with pancreatic cancer -- those who carry a specific genetic mutation can now be treated with the drug olaparib (Lynparza).

The FDA approved olaparib for use as a first-line treatment of cancer that has grown beyond the pancreas in patients with what’s known as a germline BRCA mutation.

Olaparib is already approved for use in BRCA-mutated ovarian and breast cancers.

But there are several other treatments for these two cancer types, whereas there are few options for pancreatic cancer. It’s one of the most devastating cancers -- survival rates are the lowest of the most common cancer types. (The 5-year survival rate is only 2% to 9%.)

"Metastatic pancreatic cancer patients have been waiting a long time for new therapy options for their devastating disease," said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a patient support group.

"Today's approval of olaparib provides an exciting new treatment option for patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer," she said in a statement.

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World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2019

On November 21, people around the world united to demand better in the fight against the world’s toughest cancer. The World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, consisting of more than 80 organizations from over 30 countries and six continents, raised global awareness and inspired action, bringing greater attention, awareness, and better outcomes to this deadly disease.

Thank you to everyone who participated in World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2019. With your support, we turned the world purple, raising awareness for a disease that desperately needs more attention and progress to help patients fight and survive.

Please mark your calendar and save the date for World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2020 – Thursday, November 19, 2020

Click here to find out more about what happened on WPCD 2019.

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Does Type 2 Diabetes Increase the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer that occurs when cells are produced in the pancreas in an uncontrolled manner. Like all cancers, the earlier a diagnosis is made, then the better the prognosis. Pancreatic can is one of the hardest of cancers to diagnose and has a low 5-year survival rate of around 6-9%.

There have been reports that the onset of diabetes or the worsening of an existing diabetes condition could be a warning sign for pancreatic cancer. Alternatively, diabetes could be a consequence of pancreatic cancer. A recent paper published by a researcher at the Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University in Ukraine has investigated the role of diabetes in the development of pancreatic cancer.

A chicken and egg situation

The pancreas is a small organ that is part of the digestive system and sits just behind the stomach. It also plays a role in keeping blood sugar levels within acceptable levels by producing insulin. The link between pancreatic cancer and type 2 diabetes has been shown to be there - but researchers have not been able to fully determine the relationship.

When higher levels of insulin are circulating in the blood stream, there is an increased pressure on the pancreas to produce insulin. Some researchers have suggested that this could lead to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Alternatively, some researchers believe that pancreatic cancer may lead to insulin resistance by increasing the quantity of insulin produced in the pancreas and that pancreatic cancer could lead to a reduced ability to produce insulin leading to an increased risk of diabetes.

Both a marker and a risk factor

To investigate the link between type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer, the researchers from the Ukraine studied 42 participants in four groups. A healthy control group, patients with type 2 diabetes, patients with pancreatic cancer but no diabetes and patients with pancreatic cancer and type 2 diabetes. Blood samples were taken and analysed using chromatography among other techniques. The ability of chromatography to process samples efficiently is discussed in the article, Increasing HPLC / UHPLC Sample Throughput: Doing More in Less Time.
The team reported that patients with pancreatic cancer that had a background of type 2 diabetes did not have some of the usual diabetes conditions like obesity, elevated IGF-1 levels and hyperinsulinemia which they conclude leads to conclusion that the patients have secondary diabetes - diabetes caused by another illness, in this case pancreatic cancer. They also state that patients with a new diagnosis of pancreatic cancer should be advised to screen for pancreatic cancer as diabetes can be both a marker and a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

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Adults 85 years and older fare well after CRC operations

Preliminary study results show many older patients receive a colon cancer diagnosis and operation at the same time, and that a surgeon's experience may be an important component in how surgical treatment should be delivered.

As people are living longer, more elderly patients are being diagnosed with age-related colon cancer, making it of increasing concern to the medical community. Another related issue is whether an operation should be suggested as a form of treatment for this vulnerable population.

However, results from a preliminary research study reveal the vast majority of surgical patients over 85 were still alive in the short-term after undergoing an operation (called colectomy) to remove a portion of the colon for stage II and III colon cancer. Researchers presented their findings at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2019.

Using the New York State Cancer Registry and Statewide Planning Research & Cooperative System, lead study author Roma Kaur, MD, a research fellow in the department of surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, N.Y. and colleagues analyzed data on 3,779 patients age 85 and older who underwent colectomy between 2004 and 2012. They looked at short-term outcomes (30 and 90 day) among patients with Stage II or Stage III colon cancer.

"We were interested in this topic because we know from CDC data that patients 85 and older have the highest incidence rate of colon cancer and according to the U.S. Census Bureau this is the fastest growing segment of the geriatric population. Given the burden of colon cancer in this cohort, we were hoping to identify and better understand factors that were associated with survival in these patients," said Dr. Kaur.

The survival rates of all patients were evaluated from the time of the operation. After 30 days, 89 percent of patients were alive, and after 90 days, 83 percent of patients were still alive. Factors associated with worse survival were having an operation during an unplanned admission, having an open operation, and preoperative complications like perforation, bleeding, and a serious infection called sepsis.

There were several noteworthy findings in the study. Nearly half of the patients received a diagnosis of colon cancer and surgery performed during an unplanned hospital admission, a factor found to be independently associated with worse survival. Additionally, the study suggested being treated by an experienced surgeon who performs a large number of colon cancer resection procedures annually reduced the risk of dying in this population.

Regarding the number of non-elective procedures, Dr. Kaur said, "It seems a large number of patients are coming into the hospital with a problem that is severe enough to require admission?--sometimes a complication from their cancer?--and then getting diagnosed with cancer and undergoing an operation during that same hospitalization. We found that 80 percent had an open operation, as opposed to a minimally invasive one, so these patients are being subjected to open operations because, in part, it's taking place in an acute setting."

During an open operation a surgeon makes a larger incision; whereas, for a minimally invasive operation, a few small incisions are made, and surgeons use laparoscopic instruments to perform the procedure. Generally, minimally invasive surgery is favored due to outcomes like less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times.

"When patients have surgery in a nonelective setting it makes it nearly impossible for these patients to be adequately optimized before their operation. If we are able to find these patients earlier, we may be able to do a comprehensive geriatric assessment, prehabilitation before surgery, and perhaps even a minimally invasive operation," Dr. Kaur added.

While colonoscopy is considered a gold standard procedure for preventing death from colon cancer, screening older adults is controversial. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, adults age 76 to 85 should consult with their doctor before getting this diagnostic test.* Results from the study corroborate the idea that perhaps screening guidelines should not be solely based on chronological age, but rather be more individualized, and incorporate the patient's life expectancy, health status, and ability to tolerate the screening procedure into account. The role of less invasive screening alternatives and identifying the "right" patients to screen will require further study, according to the researchers.

To improve care among older adults, factors yielding favorable outcomes need to be identified. This study found that two factors--discharge to another health care setting and higher surgeon colon cancer resection volume--were associated with improved survival.

"Postoperatively, we need to consider the full breadth of resources available to patients--physical and occupational therapy needs, nursing needs, and to evaluate if they would benefit from being discharged to another health care facility," said Dr. Kaur.

About 42 percent of these patients were discharged to a skilled nursing facility after their operation. The move reduced the odds of dying by 89 percent at 30 days, and by 58 percent at 90 days.

When the the operation was performed by a highly experienced surgeon, it also reduced the risk of death. The researchers reported a nearly 59 percent reduction in the odds of mortality in the short-term associated with surgeons who performed a higher volume of colon resection procedures per year.

"The decision to operate on an older adult must take many factors into account," Dr. Kaur said.

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The information contained in this website is for general health education purposes only. Its objective is to give general guidance, and should not replace or be interpreted as a consultation with a physician or a healthcare professional. For any personal questions about your health, please talk to your doctor. Even if we try to keep the information on our website up-to-date and correct, we cannot guarantee that it covers all the latest medical and scientific insights.
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