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This Chewing Gum Could Save Your Life

04-24-2017

Beginning next year, your cancer test could be as easy as enjoying a piece of delicious chewing gum. That sure sounds like a lot more fun than the early cancer detection screenings we have now, which involve getting stuck with needles, urinating in a little cup, taking laxatives and other uncomfortable preparations. 

An Alabama company says its cancer detecting chewing company will soon be available in pharmacies and grocery stores. Katherine Bazemore, president and CEO of Volatile Analysis says there will be different chewing gums to detect different kinds of cancer.  

The first version of the gum that will make it to market will focus on the detection of lung cancer, the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

Another gum specializing in pancreatic cancer will follow. Bazemore said Volatile Analysis is also developing a pacifier technology to test young children for diseases in infancy, according to AL.com.

The key is your spit. Bazemore says our saliva contains certain chemicals that are produced by the body if a person has a certain types of cancer. Different cancers cause the body to produce different chemicals. 

She says in order to get an accurate saliva sample, you need a lot of it, which is why chewing gum is ideal. It absorbs a lot of saliva over a relatively long period of time. After you chew the gum for a while and it gets saturated with your spit, the gum is sent off to the lab for analysis.

We all know someone who's been told they have cancer. It happened to 1.5 million people last year. Doctors say the best way to survive cancer is to catch it early. The problem is, many people don't get the necessary screening tests because those tests are not fun. Just ask anyone who's had a mammogram. Then there are the cancers that don't have early screening tests, like pancreatic. This new gum could solve both problems. 

If it works.

The gum is still in its testing phase, and other early detection methods that are somewhat similar don't really work too well. These are things like dogs that can "smell" cancer and breathalyzer tests that pick it up.

“Over the last 15 years there have been a lot of attempts with different products and processes for early detection of cancer,” Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, told Fox News.

“None of these efforts are proven to detect cancer early,” Lichetenfeld said.

In fact, he worries that people will opt for the easy and delicious gum test in place of the less enjoyable established tests such as colonoscopies, pap smears, mammograms and lung CT scans, which have been proven effective. 

Bazemore responded, "His concern is that people will stop going for detection and will be waiting for the gum when they could be needing to be treated," adding, "We certainly don't want to encourage anyone not to go in for treatments or to go for diagnostics."

 

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